Special Edition Supplement to The Church News from The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
In this issue Breaking out of Babylon - the Rev. Lera Tyler Checking your Oil - the Rev. Dr. John Lewis Taking your Time and Learning from It - the Rev. Scott Brown The Divine Transformation of Spiritual Retreat - Rilda Baker Finding Sabbath - Patricia Brooke Hearing the Silence - the Rev. Lisa Mason In Good Time - Diane Thrush Walking Online - Kelley Kimble The Batteries are in Backwards - Keith Hughey Rebooting - the Rt. Rev. Gar y Lillibridge
www.reflections-dwtx.org A Special Edition supplement to The Church News family of publications
Read the magazine online at www.reflections-dwtx.org
Focus: Breaking Away
5 Breaking out of Babylon the Rev. Lera Tyler 7 Checking your Oil the Rev. Dr. John Lewis 10 Taking your Time and Learning from It the Rev. Scott Brown 14 The Divine Transformation of Spiritual Retreat Rilda Baker 18 Finding Sabbath Patricia Brooke 21 The Batteries are in Backwards Keith Hughey 22 Listening for the Silence the Rev. Lisa Mason 23 In Good Time Diane Thrush 24 Walking Online Kelley Kimble
In Every Issue
Fall/Winter 2011 Published by Department of Communications Episcopal Diocese of West Texas P. O. Box 6885 San Antonio, Texas 78209 www.dwtx.org Communications Officer Laura Shaver Editor Marjorie George Editorial assistant Barbara Duffield The Diocese of West Texas is A family of 27,000 members in 90 congregations across 60 counties and 69,000 square miles in South Central Texas. Bishop of West Texas The Rt. Rev. Gary R. Lillibridge Bishop Suffragan The Rt. Rev. David M. Reed Offices are at The Bishop Jones Center 111 Torcido Dr. San Antonio, Texas, 78209 210/888-824-5387
THE CHURCH NEWS (USPS 661-790) is published four times yearly – Jan, Mar, July, Sept with 2 Special Supplement Editions in May and November by The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, P O Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209. Periodicals postage paid at San Antonio TX. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, P O Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209.
3 From the Editor – Marjorie George 20 Opportunities 27 The Last Word – the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge About the cover: San Antonio artist Enedina Vasquez’s concept of breaking away. “Sometimes my life gets caught up in busyness and is full of swirls that keep folding back in on themselves,” she says. “Inspired by the Spirit, I have to let it all float up and away.”
from The Editor by Marjorie George
The Night the Lights Went Out in the Parking Lot
he car had been starting hard for a couple of days. You know the feeling – that breathholding moment when you turn the key in the ignition and the motor grinds but doesn’t kick over and that sinking feeling that all your plans are about to change. Then it catches and you breathe again and sense that you just dodged a bullet. And you think to yourself, “I really need to do something about that,” but who has time to take the car in? Or maybe who has the money? So there I was in the dark and the rain (this would be the only rainy night in San Antonio in months) trying to get home after an evening class, and this time the battery had met its end and was not going to turn over. Fortunately, God, who anticipates my every stupidity, sent an angel in the form of a classmate with jumper cables. The morning after, and with another jumper-cable start under its hood, the car was at the auto repair shop, taking just as much time and costing just as much money as it would have had I attended to it in the first place. How often in life do we limp along, recognizing that we are running out of energy and subsisting on daily jump-starts? We get along on six hours of sleep a night when we know we need eight; we throw a few prayers at God as we conk out, knowing that if we gave it a little more time and attention we might have a better relationship with the Almighty; we tell the kids “not now” even when we know that “now”
will never come again. And we ignore that little voice inside that says, “You need to do something about this” until it’s too late and the kids are grown and gone and relationships are a disaster and we are sitting in the rain in the dark with a dead battery. Sometimes, folks, what’s needed, really needed, is a drastic change. A surgical removal of the dead battery and its replacement with a new source of life that does not just sputter along. Life, the way many of us do it, is energy-sapping. But we just keep pushing through, meeting the demands of the moment and ignoring how much we need to stop, pay attention, and take the time to seek refreshment. If we are not connecting with the life-giving relationship that God longs to have with us, sooner or later our bodies and minds are going to stop dead. Sadly, our busyness, our accomplishments, our list of tasks completed do nothing to refresh us. Our schedules are full while our souls are starving. “Deep calls unto deep” says the psalmist (42:7), as we skim the surface of life. But, as Emmylou Harris sang, “The surface water cannot tell us what the deep water knows.” Henri Nouwen observes that we long for one thing that will satisfy us -- the right job; a new relationship; the latest, greatest book on spirituality -- but that we look in the wrong places. continued on page 4
Reflections is published as a special edition supplement to The Church News and invites readers from every denomination or no denomination. To subscribe (there is no charge) send name, address, and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org or Diocese of West Texas, Attn: Barbara Duffield, P O Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209. In 2011 Reflections will be published twice: in May and November. The Church News will continue to be published in January, March, July, and September. Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
■ The Night the Lights Went Out from page 3
This issue of Reflections explores some of the ways we might slow down and connect with that deep call that hovers on the fringes of our very busy lives. We hope you enjoy the issue and take something from it; actually we just hope you will take time to stop and read it. The punch line in all of this is that the class I had been attending the night the battery died was a class in spiritual formation. It’s pretty clear to me where the real learning took place.
Reach Marjorie at email@example.com.
“Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment, you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied.You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run.This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burnout.This is the way to spiritual death.” Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Direction, pg 32.
– Fall/Winter 2011
by the Rev. Lera Tyler
Breaking Out of Babylon
n spite of our many gadgets and machines to do much of our daily labor, in spite of all the computers to assist us in thinking, we are a weary and anxious people. How often we say, “I’m exhausted. When will I ever catch up? There aren’t enough hours in the day!” The pressure to get it all done companions with the pressure to have the latest electronic devices, the perfect weight-to-height ratio, the most successful child, the house of our dreams. We spend a lot of time wanting, doing, getting, and having.
We want to hold onto facts, money, all the things we’ve worked for and what we’ve always believed is right -- all these self-made idols that we think are so essential. I’m reminded of Emmylou Harris’ song Doin’ Time in Babylon. The lyrics name our “needs” for things like high-speed networks and our need to “get results, get ‘em fast, because someone else will be laughin’ last.” The refrain warns what happens to weary and anxious people: you “put that conscience on the shelf, keep the best stuff for yourself,
We spend a lot of time wanting, doing, getting, and having. . .We fill up with diversions that crowd out what is good and soul satisfying.
continued on page 6
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
■ Breaking Out of Babylon from page 5 and let the rest fight over what is left.” It’s doing time, making busy, in a harsh and ungodly place. We spend a lot of time in Babylon. We spend a lot of time captivated by false gods and angry words, beautiful idols, and the siren’s call to have and keep everything we can. We fill up with diversions that crowd out what is good and soul satisfying. As a safeguard against Babylon -- against our excessive need to do and to have -- God commanded God’s people to set aside one day in seven to cease work, to give relief to their souls and bodies and also to give the parts of creation that supported them a time of relief and rest. It was to be a time of holy ceasing. Last fall I decided to take seriously this commandment to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. I decided to practice Sabbath as closely as possible to its traditional intent. But my Sabbath seemed complicated before it started. What day of the week would it be (since, as a priest, I “work” on Sundays)? What practices would honor the holiness of the day? Which would really be meaningless? I made plans: I set apart from early evening Sunday to early evening Monday. I cooked and cleaned ahead of time. I decided that shopping (even for groceries), watching movies, playing solitaire, and checking Facebook were not Sabbath activities. Then came the hard part: what then should I do? How could I make good use of my time? Read, study, rest, and sketch? What should I do all day? Finally, it became obvious I was “doing” something wrong. Sabbath seemed so weirdly complicated because -- I finally figured out -- it was not created as a “doing” event. A time of holy rest invites us to join God in being holy.
and productivity; to let go of anxieties, needs, misgivings, grudges, and fears. Jewish psychologist Erich Fromm describes Shabbat as rest “in the sense of the re-establishment of complete harmony between human beings and between them and nature.” It is a time when nothing is destroyed and nothing built, “a day of truce in the human battle for the world.” Holy ceasing also prepares us to receive and to release, to enjoy for a time and give up in time, the blessings of our lives: good jobs, good health, sound finances, good friends, loved ones. Perhaps the vision comes best when we imagine Jesus as our Sabbath guest, inviting himself into our harried and heavy days, and saying: “All you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, come and I will give you rest. Take my wisdom. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:2829). Holy ceasing invites us to make time to establish inner sanctuaries in our bodies and souls, to be still and embrace the gracious presence of an eternal moment; to make time to hear God’s word and room to receive holy gifts, like courage, faith, hope, a call to serve others. We are invited to rest in the natural rhythms of God’s gifts and our relationships and to welcome with joy, expectation, and openness God’s presence. We are invited to practice receiving and letting go, breathing in and breathing out, coming in fear and going in peace, seeing sunrises and sunsets, loving and releasing. We are invited to inhabit spaces of time and being that are far, far, far away from Babylon.
Holy ceasing is time set aside to practice who WE ARE in the world I AM is sharing with us. According to Jewish tradition, Sabbath enters into lives as a beautiful and bountiful guest, inviting her hosts to break away from daily routines and usual patterns of thinking: to stop work and strife; to break away from the idols of money, position,
The Rev. Lera Tyler is associate rector at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, San Antonio. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Fall/Winter 2011
A biblical reflection
by the Rev. Dr. John Lewis
obert was beyond exhausted. This job had pushed everyone to the limit. He and his construction crews had worked very long days for more than four straight weeks without even so much as a day off so the new bank could open on time. Late this afternoon, the work was finally finished. Robert was hastily packing his things trying to get away. If he really hurried, and Do I sacrifice my own needs didn’t get caught in traffic, he had and those of my family to a chance to get home in time to eat help an employee or friend? dinner with his family for the first time in well over a month. Or, do I for once say “no”
and schedule a time to meet tomorrow? What does faithfulness look like in this particular situation?
As Robert was putting his gear in the truck, Jim walked up with a sad look on his face. This project had been especially hard on Jim, the foreman of Robert’s best crew. Jim and his wife, Janie, had been struggling in their marriage for at least a year. The last month had only made things worse. “Can I talk to you for just a minute?” asked Jim. “Janie left a message on my phone today telling me she moved out of the house.” Robert paused before responding, wondering whether he really had the energy and time to start what would no doubt be a long conversation. continued on page 8
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
■ Checking your oil from page 7
Today Robert stands in the shoes of Jesus.What would Jesus do? From this story it would seem that faithfulness means putting aside his own concerns and the needs of his family to have compassion for Jim and to talk with him. Or, does it? Sound familiar? In one way or another the story describes a situation most of us face regularly in our daily lives. Do I sacrifice my own needs and those of my family to help an employee or friend? Or, do I for once say “no” and schedule a time to meet tomorrow? What does faithfulness look like in this particular situation? Fortunately, Robert is a practicing Christian and spends time in the early morning each day reading his Bible. He knows from his daily discipline and from experience that scripture provides several possible alternatives for how he might respond faithfully to Jim. One is a story from the Gospel of Mark:
“Then Jesus went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.... They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.... The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6b-13, 30-34).
Robert has reflected on this story a lot, usually putting himself in the shoes of Jesus’ disciples. The nerve of Jesus! Here we are, tired and hungry after following his directions. Finally, we have a chance to break away to eat, rest, and have some down time with him. And what does he do? He has compassion on yet another crowd. At our expense! Doesn’t Jesus care about us, the people who are like family to him? But today Robert stands in the shoes of Jesus. What would Jesus do? From this story it would seem that faithfulness means putting aside his own concerns and the needs of his family to have compassion for Jim and to talk with him. Or, does it? Robert also knows a passage from the Gospel of Matthew:
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also,
– Fall/Winter 2011
saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:1-13). Robert has only recently begun to process what this passage might mean in the context of his own life. Unlike Mark 6, this story seems to suggest that, sometimes, faithfulness in the kingdom means saying “no” to those who are in need. If the wise bridesmaids had shared what oil they had, there may not have been enough for any of them to last the entire banquet. Robert might have reflected, “When I am tired, pushed beyond my limits by the challenges of daily life, it is time to be wise and circumspect before making new commitments. Will this latest demand on my time and energy just consume even more of my precious fuel oil, maybe even causing my own
light of Christ to go out altogether? If so, faithfulness may require me to say “no” to Jim. I can set a time to meet with him tomorrow morning, when we’re both fresh after a good night’s sleep and have plenty of time to talk through the whole situation.” Scripture offers us direction for faithfulness in daily life. There is seldom just one “right” response to any situation. Knowing and living the stories gives us the confidence to act in faith. This is especially true when it comes to trying to break away. One way to read two seemingly conflicting scripture passages is to read them both and see which one speaks the loudest in this moment in this context. Then proceed to act in faith (or confidence). We then watch carefully over time to see if our decision is bearing fruit. If so, it was a good choice. If it’s not bearing fruit over time, we may consider another approach. There is no guilt in this. When we make decisions “in Christ,” we leave the outcome to God. The needs of the world are great. So are ours. If you were Robert, what would you do?
The Rev. Dr. John G. Lewis is CoDirector of The Work+Shop in San Antonio, Texas. Reach him at email@example.com
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
Taking your Time
Learning from It by the Rev. Scott Brown
efore I even open up my son’s quarterly report card, I know what it will say. Since the first grade, every teacher has made the same comment: “Parker is smart and extremely capable. He just needs to take his time and avoid making careless mistakes.” Truthfully, I can’t blame him. I repeatedly received those same comments on my grade school report cards. But even more so, if I received a report card as an adult today, I’d still be accused of hastiness and carelessness. We live in an over stimulated culture, thriving on efficiency over effectiveness. We are impressed with the speed in which things are accomplished. The quicker we get things done, the quicker we can move on to the next task. Our need for speed causes us to operate in a continual state of distraction. We’re so busy that we don’t have time to take our time.
I admire people who have mastered a task. Whether it’s a professional golfer shaping his shots on a difficult fairway or an amazing artist turning a canvas into a piece of beauty, those who seem to do what they do flawlessly and effortlessly amaze me. Behind every person who has mastered a task are years of practice, learning, and attention to details. There is an ancient legend concerning the “black belt” used in martial arts. All beginners wore white uniforms with white belts. And although the uniform was to be washed on a regular basis, the tradition was that the belt was never to be cleaned. Therefore the more time one spent practicing, the more blood, sweat, and dirt would accumulate on the belt and the darker the belt would become. Therefore a black belt was a symbol of years of devotion and dedication. Whether our goal is martial arts, parenting, or selling widgets, we all want the black belt of our
– Fall/Winter 2011
profession. The desire for success is universal. But to truly master any skill, one must be willing to slow down long enough to practice and to learn. Stepping away from our fast-paced lives to spend time reflecting is not our typical way of living life. Yet this is exactly the model Jesus calls us to follow. Throughout the gospels, Jesus made time to get away, to retreat, to process and pray and think. “Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16). Just like Jesus, our souls crave times of reflection and rest. These moments, though rarely taken, allow us to observe an experience or event, reflect on that event, interpret our observations and then learn from them. Instead of honoring our body’s desire to slow down and process, we are guilty of living life from experience to experience with no real learning occurring. We live by the classic definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) simply because we don’t take the time to process and learn from our experiences. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the people whom I look up to and admire for their faithfulness and non-anxious presence are neither hasty nor careless. Instead, they are deliberate, intentional, considerate, and peaceful. One of my spiritual heroes is Dr. Bob Hatcher, a retired physician and member of St. Alban’s Church in Harlingen. Spend five minutes in Bob’s presence and your worries seem to float away as his peaceful presence transcends and takes root in you. Every time Bob is scheduled to layread at a service, I find him in the chapel, sitting silently in prayer. As I scurry to prepare the altar, check the pews, give last minute instructions to the ushers, and shake hands with the guests, Bob sits and prays and prepares his heart for worship. Ask Bob about his spiritual practices and he’ll humbly say he’s spent a lifetime developing them. He is undoubtedly a black belt in the art of peacefulness. A deeper look into the practices of any of our spiritual heroes reveals habits like Jesus’, practices such as journaling, meditation, and silence. Learning and growing in any area requires a conscious commitment to close the gap between aspiration and ability. I don’t want to be in a constant hurry. I don’t want to miss out on life because of my
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
carelessness. I want to be intentional and peaceful. Yet I can’t be Bob Hatcher. God didn’t make me that way. Likewise I can’t be Jesus; Lord knows I’m far from perfect. But what I can do is deliberately practice slowing down, staying alert, paying attention, and giving thanks in all things. I can be conscious about learning from my life’s experiences instead of wondering when my life will have something to teach me. Black belts aren’t freely given to those who race through life. High marks on report cards are not awarded to the capable. They are earned by those who have worked hard and committed themselves to learning. So slip away, retreat, pray, and process. Slow down and practice being present. Practice may not always make perfect but it’s the first step toward permanent.
The Rev. Scott Brown is rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Harlingen, TX. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a break A study done at the National University of Singapore found that an intentional 30-minute nap during the work day increases a person’s productivity and alertness. Yet American businesses lose $18 billion a year in productivity due to employees’ drowsiness. Intermittent breaks during the work day – such as surfing the web for ten minutes after completing an intense period of work – leads to greater productivity, says the study.
the op e n i n g e x h i b i t o f
C ath e dr a l H o us e Ga llery
Take Nothing for the Jou rney watercolor by Patsy Sasek
opening reception Nov. 18, 6 to 8 p.m. 111 Torcido Drive San Antonio, TX 78209 210.824.5387 Gallery hours M-F, 9-5
Located in Apostleâ€™s Hall at the Bishop Jones Center, Cathedral House Gallery will feature continuing exhibits by artists from around the Diocese of West Texas. Each exhibit will explore a particular theme with works in a variety of media. Sales will benefit diocesan ministries. Artists who wish to participate in this or future exhibits, contact Marjorie George at email@example.com.
Take Nothing for the Journey hangs November 18 to December 30
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
rchbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey once described the essence of retreat as “being with God in silence.” Historically, retreats were introduced at the CounterReformation (approximately 1545-1648) by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and its founder, Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius Art by Terry Gay Puckett. See more of her art at http:// based retreats on his Spiritual tpuckett.fineartstudioonline.com. Terry Gay’s art will be Exercises, which are still in use part of Cathedral House Gallery; see pg 12 for details. today, (see online http://www. nwjesuits.org/JesuitSpirituality/ SpiritualExercises.html.) Author N. W. Goodacre observed that in retreat, participants find they are meeting with God, not just talking about him. Retreats can take several forms, from individual guided retreats, to silent retreats, to group retreats on a particular topic. On the following pages, writer Rilda Baker describes her retreat experience, and we offer a list of retreat centers in south central Texas.
– Fall/Winter 2011
The Divine Transformation of Spiritual
by Rilda Baker
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me -- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)
ver 40 years ago on a crisp fall weekend my Methodist youth group caravanned from our Northern Virginia suburb into the autumn-colored woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains for a retreat. Today I remember more about short-sheeting beds and sneaking out of cabins than about any of the weekend’s spiritual agenda. However, I also vividly recall the soul-stirring I felt during campfire evening prayers and the palpable holy hush that enfolded us at the sunrise worship service.
making time for regular retreat has become my way of nurturing and growing that relationship.
I made my first “adult” retreat about a dozen years ago. I was a chronically tired high school teacher yearning to “break away,” seeking a change of pace, wishing to see my world through a different lens. Frankly, God and I hadn’t had many intimate conversations since my college years. Nevertheless, one misty South Texas morning with a “blue norther” at my back, I drove three hours south of San Antonio to Lebh Shomea House of Prayer in Sarita. The community’s only expectation was that I would attend early morning Eucharist. At the common refectory simple meals were eaten in silence. The rest of the time was my own. There in the Wild Horse Desert between long naps, reading, writing, and walks, my inner conversations gradually grew still. In that silence and solitude I sensed God’s presence once again.
Experienced retreat leaders seem to agree that any spiritual retreat includes Sabbath, silence, and solitude. A person must break away from his/her daily patterns to rest (Sabbath), be free to disengage from conversations and noise (silence), and experience time alone (solitude) for reflection. In such a setting God often reveals those “unforced rhythms of grace” that open us to Divine Presence.
What I discovered during my “desert experience” was that while I may have done little to foster any connection with God over the years, God had maintained a relationship with me. Since then,
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
So why would I want to take a retreat if I have never done so? Retreat leader Judy Turner says (in Spiritual Retreats: Why, What, When, How) that in today’s world, we all spend “our lives as busy disciples of Christ.” However, we often neglect His invitation to disciples to “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Luke writes that “Jesus would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (5:16). Clearly Jesus understood the restorative benefits of “breaking away.” If we truly aspire to pattern our lives after Jesus’ model, then we are also called to make time for retreat.
Well-known spiritual writer and Episcopal priest Barbara Crafton describes quite well in her reflection Quiet Day the rhythms and benefits afforded by finding time for retreat: “A retreat isn’t making something, though we do often talk about “making a retreat.” Rather, a retreat is taking -- taking a gift God continually offers but which we are usually too busy even to see, let alone accept. We make room for ourselves and God in a retreat. Room for joy and room for sorrow, room for truths we may not have understood before. Or, maybe, truths we have understood all too well and sought to avoid. Central among these truths is the fact that we are
beloved of a God who understands us better than we understand ourselves.”
• Would I want a retreat in which I can discuss
How would I choose a retreat? If you have never been part of one, an organized retreat is probably the best way to discover the restorative benefits of this spiritual practice. Most retreats alternate teaching or meditations with quiet time for reflection. Our own diocese organizes and publicizes many retreat opportunities (see the list on page 17). The following questions may help you to identify a retreat mode that interests you or one that you are willing to try:
• Is there a retreat with a topic I feel called to
• Could I begin by setting aside a half hour or an hour daily or weekly for a mini-retreat?
• Could I attend a quiet day (4-8 hours) in my own parish or somewhere nearby?
• Would I want to attend a two- or three-day retreat over a weekend?
• Would I prefer a retreat where my time and focus are my own to design?
• Would I rather be indoors or do I want to be out in nature as well?
• Would I like to try a retreat that includes more extended periods of silence?
spiritual topics with others? explore?
• Is there a retreat led by a spiritual teacher whose insights I want to hear?
• Is there a particular matter in my life that could benefit from time on retreat?
• Do I want to have access to spiritual direction during a group retreat?
• Would I like to take an individual guided retreat with a spiritual director?
• Am I interested in taking a retreat at a convent, monastery, or other spiritual community? Over the years I have learned that periodic retreats work some kind of divine transformation in one’s spiritual life. Rather than subtracting time from your life, breaking away on a retreat in fact gives you time -- as Henri Nouwen said in The Inner Voice of Love, A Journey through Anguish to Freedom -- “to close yourself to the outside world so that you can enter your own heart and the heart of God.” If you would like help deciding what type of retreat is right for you, or finding a retreat that seems to suite you, contact the Diocesan Retreat Society through Rilda Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rilda Baker is a teacher, writer, and Spanish translator. She co-directs the Diocesan Retreat Society and is a member of St. Paul’s in San Antonio. Reach her at drrildabaker@ gmail.com. Photo courtesy Maria Bercher. See more of Bercher’s work at www. mariabercherphotography.com Left: Chisos Mountain Rock. Photo taken in February 2009, at the Church of Reconciliation’s Lenten Retreat. Photographer Chip Matteson. See more of Chip’s work at www.chipmatteson.com.
– Fall/Winter 2011
This list of retreat centers includes those of several church affiliations and denominations. Some locations are more suited for individual retreats; others offer structured retreats for small and large groups. A few of these centers will put you in touch with a spiritual director who can guide your retreat. Others provide only a bed, bath, and place to cook your own food. A further list (we make no assurance of its accuracy) can be found at http://www. findthedivine.com/states/states_tx.html. For a list of upcoming diocesan retreats, visit www.dwtx.org and click on the Events and Calendar tab.
Pictured, a portion of watercolor “Walk on the Beach” by Patsy Sasek. Patsy’s work will be on display at Cathedral House Gallery. See pg 12 for details. Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center Navasota 936. 825.7175 www.campallen.org Cedarbrake Renewal Center Belton 254.780.2436 http://www.austindiocese.org/ department_home.php?id=4 Cenacle Retreat House Houston 281.497.3131 http://www.cenacleretreathouse. org/ Eremos: A Center of Contemplative Life Austin 512.891.9948 http://www.eremos.org/ Laity Lodge Leakey 830.792.1230 www.laitylodge.org
Lebh Shomea: House of Prayer Sarita 361.294.5369 www.lebhshomea.org Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House Lake Dallas 940.321.6020 http://www.montserratretreat. org/
Omega Retreat and Spirituality Center Boerne 830.816.8471 http://www.benedictineministries. com St. Antony Retreat Center San Antonio 210.980.3440 www.stantonychurch.org
Mount Carmel Center Dallas 214.331.6224 http://www.mountcarmelcenter. org/
T Bar M New Braunfels 1.800.292.5469 http://www.tbarm.com/
Moye Center Castroville 830.931.2233 http://www.moyecenter.org/
Three Mountain Retreat Center Clifton 254.675.3188 http://www.threemountainretreat. com/
Oblate Renewal Center San Antonio 210.349.4173 http://www.ost.edu/OblateSite/ ORC/orc-about.htm
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
Way of the Wolf Fredericksburg 830.997.0711 http://www.wayofthewolf.com
Diocesan retreats and facilities The Diocese of West Texas sponsors several annual retreats. For specific dates, check the diocesan calendar at www.dwtx.org and look for these events: Women’s Gatherings Top-notch speakers, spiritual reflection, fellowship, and free time. All held at Camp Capers. Two a year; spring and fall. Dates in 2012 are April 13-15 and Oct. 12-14. Men’s Retreat Men from around the diocese gather for work, spiritual reflection, and fellowship. 2012 date is April 27-29. Fathers and Sons Retreat Mothers and Daughters Retreat Parents and children spend weekends together, away from the norms of busy life. Children ages 5 to 18. In 2012, both retreats will be held in September at Camp Capers. Annual Silent Retreat Held in November each year (this year November 11-13) at the Moye Center in Castroville. Retreat is lead by a conductor, participants are silent from Thurs. evening through Sun. morning. To check on last-minute openings for the 2011 retreat, contact Rilda Baker at email@example.com. Spiritual Retreat for Recovering Alcoholics, Al-Anons, and Adult Children of Alcoholics. Held at Camp Capers, twice a year, spring and fall. Dates for 2012 are May 4-6 and Oct. 5-7. Community of Hope (COH) retreats are for those who minister in the COH program. The next one is March 23-25, 2012, at the Mustang Island Conference Center. Diocesan Daughters of the King sponsor Quiet Days often on the grounds of the Bishop Jones Center. Cursillo (for adults) and Happening (for students in grades 10-12) are in-depth spiritual renewal weekends. See the diocesan website - www.dwtx.org - for details and dates. Those who have attended Cursillo gather for an annual retreat in Fredericksburg, next year April 20-21.
Check the diocesan calendar at www.dwtx.org regularly for dates and registration info on these and other retreats.
Grounds at the Bishop Jones Center
The diocese owns and operates two individual retreat facilities: Sol y Sombra retreat house at Camp Capers is a place for personal spiritual retreats available to the clergy and the laity of West Texas at the rate of $15 per person (2 persons maximum) per night. Inquiries regarding reservations should be directed to Laura Woodall at 888/210 824-5387 or laura.woodall@dwtx. org. At the diocesan Mustang Island Conference Center, a one-bedroom apartment known as La Casa de la Playa is available for personal and private retreats for parishioners of the Diocese of West Texas. The apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and all linens provided. To reserve a date contact Laura Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the grounds of the Bishop Jones Center in San Antonio, known as Cathedral Park, offer acres of green space dotted with meandering paths amidst dense foliage and places to sit and meditate. The grounds have provided renewal and refreshment for thousands of years. They are open M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 111 Torcido, San Antonio TX 78209.
– Fall/Winter 2011
Sabbath by Patricia Brooke
own “to-do” list to mine. Thomas Merton calls this a “pervasive form of contemporary violence.” Why is it so very hard to give myself/ourselves permission to stop? I don’t think that is what God intends for us. We have forgotten the Sabbath. Sabbath is a gift of time for our dry souls to be nourished and restored. The question is: How do we pamper our souls? The Hebrew word Sabbath literally means “to cease.” Sabbath is an opportunity for us to break away from the pressures of everyday living and to refocus on what is really important. So, how do I/we take Sabbath? How can we take a “holy” pause in our busy lives?
story is told about a South American tribe that went on a long march. They would walk day after day, then suddenly stop, sit down to rest, and make camp for a couple of days before going any farther. They explained that they needed the time of rest so their souls could catch up with them. (Sabbath — Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, Wayne Muller). The first time I read this story, I was taken aback because I resonated so strongly with the images. How busy I am — how busy we all are — always rushing to DO something: taking and picking up children at school, working an 8-5 job or longer, running to the grocery store, doing the dishes, the laundry, the yard, checking emails, and the list goes on. You can add your
Does it have to be on Sunday? I would suggest not. Unfortunately, Sunday has now become a day to get ready for the week ahead. Sabbath time can be whatever time we may choose: a minute, an hour, a day — when we simply stop. I practice Sabbath in a number of ways: • My day usually begins with prayer, reflection, and journaling. It doesn’t need to be hours and hours. Try ending your day with a reflection of gratitude for the blessings seen and given. • Being semi-retired, I have made it a habit to take a nap most days. Some days it is a short nap—15 minutes, other days, it may be an hour. I wake feeling physically refreshed in body and soul. Work at a desk all day? On break or lunch, take a walk around the block. • Sabbath time is sharing a lovely cup of tea with my husband, John, in the afternoon. We might sit on our patio and listen to the birds, watch the sky. Drink your morning coffee on your patio.
– Fall/Winter 2011
• I intentionally try to embrace the activities of God wherever I am. It is as simple as sitting on the front porch at our ranch in Goliad County—watching the barn swallows feeding their young in the nest, or watching the deer and turkey strolling across the pasture. Be open to what God can reveal to you through creation.
on the Web
My advice is to start simply. What feeds your body, mind, and soul?
• Taking a bubble bath? • Playing golf with your buddies? • Reading a good book? • Playing games with your children/ grandchildren?
• Sharing a meal with family or friends? • Listening to classical music? • Turning your cell phone off, maybe even your computer for an hour, maybe a day? (a hard one?)
• Going for a full body massage? • Taking time for a retreat? Sabbath will be different for each of us. Joan Chittister says “that a soul without a sense of Sabbath is an agitated soul. We must consciously do something different than we have been doing. That’s why we have the Sabbath and rest and leisure.” There is intentionality to Sabbath. Sabbath is a gift from God — a sacred gift of rest. We have only to embrace this gift and walk gently with ourselves and those we love.
Patricia Brooke often leads retreats and seminars. She is a member of St. David’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio, TX. Reach her at email@example.com.
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
You’ll find more articles about breaking away -- as well as on a variety of other spiritual journey topics -- on our blogsite. Here’s a sample of what you can read in the coming weeks: What was I thinking? Why had I paid for this experience in advance without realizing what I was getting myself into? That’s what went through my mind as I faced my first white-water rafting trip in Colorado . . . from Wetsuit Armor by Jean Beere. Traveling light is not a tradition in my family. In fact, I could stand up in any situation and say, “Hi, my name is Kathy, and I am a recovering hoard-aholic.” From family history, I know that the trait toward hoarding has been passed down to me through at least three generations . . . from Hoarding by Kathy Warmack. There’s a whole passel of kids standing at the corner in my neighborhood, waiting for the school bus – maybe 10 or 12 of them, middle school kids, just on the edge of becoming teenagers. One boy, the smallest of them, actually, needs to show off this morning. He strolls out to the middle of the street, daring the oncoming cars to run over him, scooting back to the curb at the last minute. The drivers honk disapprovingly at him. He loves it. These kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing at this point in their maturing process; but, oh, Lord, don’t tell them that. From Maturing of the Soul by Marjorie George.
Opportunities Christ Church, San Antonio, will host a Community of Hope Quiet Day on Saturday, November 12, from 8 am to 1 pm at the Bishop Jones Center. Breakfast snacks will be provided; there will be no lunch and there is no charge to attend. Retreat leader will be Sylvia Maddox. For information or to reserve a space, contact Carol Miller at carolm@ cecsa.org or 210-736-3132.
St. Paul’s, San Antonio, will host
sponsored by the Oblate School of Theology, on Saturday, Nov. 12. The Rev. Jane Vennard, presenter, is a senior adjunct faculty member in prayer and spirituality at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. For more information visit www.ost.edu or call Mario at 210-341-1366, ext. 226. All women are invited on Saturday, Dec. 3, to an Advent gathering sponsored by the Diocese of West Texas Daughters of the King in the Mission Room at the Bishop Jones Center. Guest speakers Carla Pineda and Patricia Brooke will lead a teaching on “The Gift of Giving.” For information, contact Karen Duerr, president DWTX Daughters of the King, at 210-355-8281 or Kim Najera, secretary, at 210-6907477.
The town of Boerne, just north of San Antonio, hosts Second Saturday Art and Wine on the second Saturday of every month from 4 to 8 p.m.Visitors are welcomed into several galleries in the town and are offered delectable hors d’oeuvres and boutique wines. Park your car free at any of the galleries then hop on and off the free trolley to the other locations. For details, www. secondsaturdayartandwine.com. Good Samaritan Community Services will host a candle-light Taize service with labyrinth walk at their main campus, 1600 Saltillo, San Antonio, at 5:30 p.m., December 1. The service will be a chance to worship silently to the rhythm of Taize chant, either walking or still, with a focus on the Incarnation and God’s love for the poor. Neighbors from the community will participate in the service. For more information, contact the Rev. Andy Lobban, chaplain at the Center, at Lobban_a@ goodsamcenter.com. Families work together to create their own nativity set at Inspire Community Fine Art Center on Saturday, Nov. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 3. Families will make mother, father, and baby, then add to the set as time allows. The class includes the basics of clay construction; all pieces will be fired and ready for pick-up before the holidays. For details and to learn more about the work of Inspire, visit www.inspirefineart.org.
Kyle Rote Jr. leads the James Avery Distinguished Speaker Series December 9-11at Mustang Island Conference Center. Servanthood
leadership will be the focus of Rote’s discussions as he shares about his yearlong experience with Mother Teresa. For more information, registration, and scholarships: www.dwtx.org, 361-749-1800, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bishop Elliott Society Lecture Series, Nov. 11-12 at St. Luke’s San Antonio. Dr. Philip Jenkins, religious historian and professor at Penn State University, will be guest speaker. For more info, call St. Luke’s at 210-8286425. 20
– Fall/Winter 2011
The batteries are in backwards
by Keith Hughey
Amy had called a local handyman who was well known to her to do a few repairs around her home. Among the three or four things she wanted him to fix was a ceiling fan that no longer responded to the remote control. She explained to him that the remote had stopped working. Figuring it was the batteries, she replaced them. Still, the fan wouldn’t respond. So because she really liked the convenience of the remote control, she was hoping he could repair whatever was broken.
Advent Opportunities Take Nothing for the Journey Advent reflections online start on November 27 and continue throughout Advent. Writers will reflect on how they embrace simple Advent disciplines to prepare for the Incarnation. Sign up to receive them in your e-mail inbox at www. reflections-dwtx.org. Walk the Labyrinth through Advent Beginning on November 27, visit four labyrinths in San Antonio. These Sunday afternoon walks will include time for meditation and information about the labyrinth. Walkers are welcome to gather for dinner (Dutch treat) following the walks. For more details, e-mail Marjorie.email@example.com. Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
The handyman pressed the remote a couple of times and, just as Amy had said, no response. He then opened the back cover on the remote. In short order he said, “Amy, here’s your problem. The batteries are in backwards.” He proceeded to reverse the batteries, close the cover, press the remote, and, Voila! It worked again! Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations where the solution to a problem is as simple as taking a different approach. Like turning the batteries around. We’ve all heard the old expression, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Generally, that pearl of wisdom is offered when some well-meaning, possibly self-appointed, coach/ teacher offers words of encouragement. Others advise to “get back on the horse” or, as the lyrics of the old Jerome Kern tune said to another generation: “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” However, beating one’s head against a wall or climbing for a second or third time into the saddle of a horse that hasn’t been trained to take a rider is not only fruitless, it’s dangerous. There are situations where the persistent application of an old solution simply cannot and will not work. Einstein may have said it best with his warning, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Nonetheless, we humans are prone to try and try again. At times to no avail, and only to later discover that the batteries were indeed in backwards. In those times and settings, changing things up -- i.e., a new solution -- is what is called for rather than continuing to push and push on the button of the same old remote. Keith Hughey is an independent management consultant and member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, San Antonio. Find him at keith@ jkeithhughey.com or visit his website at www.jkeithhughey.com.
Hearing the Silence
e encounter God in times of great joy and celebration, and we find God in the midst of noisy chaos and intense crisis. God speaks through music, worship, our daily work, times of rest and relaxation, and in conversations with one another. God reveals God’s self in literature and through laughter and in tears. But it is in the silence that I hear God most clearly. Silence brings stillness, and in that stillness God speaks. We live in a world that is filled with noise so we must intentionally seek silence. If we wait for silence to somehow find us, we are in for a long wait; we must seek spaces and places of silence. In those places of silence, we must invite ourselves to be present or show up to God’s presence so that the internal noise of our thoughts and our inner dialog don’t block out the voice of God or shield us from God’s presence. How do I find silence? I seek God’s presence in the early hours of the morning before the “world” in which I live and move and have my being wakes up. I usually seek a favorite corner of the sofa in which to curl up, or I go out into the backyard. I begin this time by saying my prayers and then literally inviting myself to be present and to be listening. If early morning is not your favorite time of day, then find another time that works such as a mid-afternoon break or at night before bed. If you are a runner or a walker, find times when the neighborhood is quiet and go with God. Do not discount those times when you find yourself restless or unable to sleep at night; use those as non-anxious times with God. Cherish even the moments of silence you can find throughout your day. When you reach to turn on the car radio, stop and just rest in the silence. Find five minutes in between meetings just to be quiet with yourself and God. In seminary, one of my professors began each class by saying, “be present to God’s presence” followed by a short period of silence. When I utter those words, my mind quiets down and my soul opens up so that I might encounter God and my soul is revived. God speaks through creation, a glorious sunrise, a walk
on the beach, the view from a mountain top, or the quiet gurgling of a stream. It is in the silence that God opens my mind and my heart to how God is working in my life and how I am to follow the path that God desires for me to take on my journey. I also must encounter my own heart and mind at rest in order to really check in on my well being. If we neglect or fail to be aware of our state of being, we miss or deny ways to restore or nourish our body, heart, and mind. In silence and stillness, I come face to face with myself and the presence of God with no space for distractions or excuses. This time of silence with God and myself is the nourishment I need to be spiritually renewed and filled so that I may be truly present with others. During these times, God puts certain people on my heart for prayer or plants seeds for new ministry in my heart or is just simply and blessedly present. Long periods of starvation from silence with God leave me grumpy, frazzled, and not able to function with clarity and peace of mind. The source of my energy and hope-filled enthusiasm is the gift of living out of the joy that comes from time with God in stillness and silence. If silence and stillness is not already part of your spiritual practice, then I invite you to take a moment to reflect the space and time in your life in which you can most easily seek silence. Be gentle on yourself. Be patient. Start small and experiment until you find the practice of silence that brings you close to the presence of God and gives you new life.
The Rev. Lisa Mason is rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio. Find her at masonlisap@ sbcglobal.net.
– Fall/Winter 2011
In Good Time For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . . Ecclesiastes 3.1-8
od creates a rhythm, an ebb and flow, to life that we often forget in our multi-tasking, fast-paced world. We are a people of agendas, schedules, and plans. That’s true also for our spiritual lives.
We don’t understand that our spiritual practices are to be flexible, based on what we need at the time. How often after a significant spiritual event we create a Rule of Life, a system of practices that work for us at the time. But, they aren’t supposed to be written in stone for the rest of our life. They are supposed to grow, mature, and change as we do. I wrote my first Rule after making a Cursillo when I was 30. By 40, my needs were different, and oh my goodness, at 60 I am so far removed from what I needed even at 50. Events change our needs, also. A year ago, what I needed was very different from what sustains me today. Neither are our practices supposed to be cookie cutter plans that look like what someone else needs. That’s where discernment, wisdom and spiritual guidance come in. Our spiritual practices ought to reflect who we are in the time and place of the present situation. We can’t practice “one size fits all” spirituality. When I talk to people, I often tell them I don’t journal and haven’t for years. It doesn’t work for me. But, there are many people like me who are trying to force themselves to journal. When they hear me say that I don’t, they feel free to quit trying to do it because they “should.”
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
by Diane Thrush This is also true of Sabbath time. The key to Sabbath is setting time apart to be with God. It does not lie in a set of rules to be rigidly followed because we are supposed to do this or that. What works for us to find a place apart with God? That, too, should change and grow as we do. What works for a young mother of toddlers is going to look very different for a widow in her 70s. A few years ago, one of our churches did a Lenten series on Sabbath. The rector had a different speaker each week tell how they do
Sabbath. I was the last speaker in the series. He told me he had been astounded at how diverse each speaker’s Sabbath time was structured. No one of us had the “right” answers or schedules. We each had found what worked for us as unique and diverse Christians. We are each called to find our own rhythm for the way we live out our faith. More often than not, that will require prayer and discernment, and above all, flexibility. “A time for everything . . .”
Diane Thrush is a chaplain at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio and a member of St. Luke’s, San Antonio. Reach Diane at diane.thrush@ MHShealth.com
Most of us think of breaking away as unplugging from all of the devices that beep, ring, ding, chime, and chirp all day and half the night - our electronic connections. But for some, Facebook,Twitter, blogs, e-mails, and the entire Internet are ways to connect with God. Writer Kelley Kimble spoke to several persons who find their spirituality by
Wa l k ing On line day to see if she had written me back. Fast forward 15 years and I remember the first fax machine in our downtown Dallas law firm in 1985.
My first car phone was installed in 1988. We got the ability to “log in” to the firm’s computer system (housed in a 12’ x 12’ environmentally controlled room) in 1989, and I could actually work from home after my baby had gone to bed. I got a bag phone in 1992 and my first handheld cell in 1998. I’m not sure when I began to email on a regular basis but I believe it was about 1996. And now, in 2011, we have email, text, chat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs and many more online communication tools. Is all this technology a distraction, or can it assist a spiritual walk? I’ve asked several people around the diocese to share how technology has enhanced their journey. What follows is just a few of the examples.
he baby boomer generation has seen more changes in the way we communicate with one another than perhaps, all the times that preceded us. When I was about 10, my grandmother insisted that I learn to write proper letters and I eagerly checked the mail box each 24
I have found myself obstinately looking for ways that these media can actually help me become more attentive to the presence of God. I have the Book of Common Prayer and the Daily Office lectionary on my iPad, and those are very helpful, but the practice that has changed me the most has been the time that I spend each day with the “Photos” section of the New York Times app. Each day, the Times posts about a dozen photos from around the world. Today I saw: a man kneeling in prayer on the last day of Ramadan in Martyrs’ Square in Lebanon; then a fierce-looking guard in the same Square, automatic weapon at the ready; then I saw a row of eight-year-old Korean girls in white tutus,
– Fall/Winter 2011
getting ready for a ballet recital, giggling and gossiping; then a row of veterans and a bugle-player at the funeral of a fellow veteran in Houston; then two men in green uniforms in Salvador, Brazil, picking up the body of a third man, murdered in drug-related violence. The neighbors, in brightly colored shorts and tee-shirts, watch over the patio walls of their houses. Paying attention each day to these moments of drama, of joy, sorrow, pain, victory, laughter, reverence, from everywhere on the globe, is like getting a God’s-eye view of the world. I offer a prayer for each of them, and somehow my own life gets set in its proper context. And I am reminded that the point of contemplation is not simply the discipline of breaking away, but a compassionate return to the world, renewed by an awareness of God’s love of everyone, the world over. –Jane Patterson For most of us, email was the first technology available to stay in virtual contact with our family, friends and colleagues. It offered the instant communication of a telephone but the convenience of reading and responding of “snail” mail.
I am reminded that the point of contemplation is not simply the discipline of breaking away, but a compassionate return to the world, renewed by an awareness of God’s love of everyone, the world over. Jane Patterson
communication is through email. We use it for teaching, for staying in touch, and for our common prayers. We use email and blogs for the formation of postulants and novices who are spread across the world. Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine how we’d carry out the work of the Order without our technology (although we did it for centuries). Technology allows us to share our studies, our joys and struggles, and our hopes and prayers. – James Dennis, O. P. The online version of Webster’s defines a blog as, “a Web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.” Pick any topic of spiritual interest and search. You will find an abundance of blogs for any interest. In fact, check out our own blog at www.reflections-dwtx. org.
Why do the internet and the people #s i follow news frm around the religious of the world wrld. by @s i keep up w/my interests. need another i use lists for my devotionals and daily priest’s blog? office. (Cash Keith in twitter language.) They don’t and my blog’s stats prove they don’t. The priest, however, at least for now, Within the ministry of the needs it. Writing is a discipline Dominican Order, technology is and a practice; a process that an essential tool. Because we are brings out something from within. spread from North Dakota to San Sometimes the blog posts bring Antonio to Bolivia to England and out my questions, wonderings, Australia, our primary method of discoveries, ideas, and prayers.
That’s pretty good stuff for spirituality. Other times, however, the posts bring out my fears, wounds, insecurities, pride, and attachments. That’s even better stuff for spirituality. Either way, the words I write are an offering of my life to God. May they be acceptable (Psalm 19:14). – Mike Marsh If you don’t use Twitter, you may not understand the next entry. Twitter bills itself as “instant updates from your friends, industry experts, favorite celebrities, and what’s happening around the world.” It is different than Facebook as you can “follow” someone and read their tweets but the relationship does not have to be mutual. In other words, I follow CNN News but they do not follow me. with #s i follow news frm around the religious wrld. by @s i keep up w/my interests. i use lists for my devotionals and daily office. – Cash Keith Cash has given you his twitter philosophy in true twitter language, fewer than 140 characters. He uses twitter by searching on certain key terms (#hashtags in Twitter world), that allow him to follow current news without following all the sources. The @ symbol is the way to follow individuals or organizations. You can also create lists of people for the subjects that interest you. on page 26 Reflectionscontinued – Fall/Winter 2011
■ Walking Online from page 25 Use of technology in communication is not limited to online communication. The way we communicate during worship has changed for some as well. To use the words “technology” and “worship” in the same sentence is to begin to make many staunch Episcopalians nervous. Tell them you mean screens
thoughts with friends who might not otherwise ever find it. Virtual contact will not ever replace the intimacy of face-to-face time but, when that’s not available, it’s been a wonderful addition to phone and email. I especially appreciate the ability to share pictures which often communicate so much more than words. Technology is a wonderful tool that can, with some discipline and focus, be used for all things spiritual. It is exactly that, a tool. It is not a replacement for your community of faith. You certainly don’t need to do all these things. But try some of them and then keep only the ones that allow you to deepen your journey. You might be surprised. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I also still write letters to my grandmother.
Few, however, would argue that hospitality is not central to both the health of the church and our call as followers of Jesus. and projectors in the context of the normal Sunday Eucharist, and you can probably make a few of them twitch uncontrollably. Few, however, would argue that hospitality is not central to both the health of the church and our call as followers of Jesus. At St. Alban’s, Harlingen, projecting selected portions of the liturgy has opened the doors of the Episcopal Church to many non-Episcopalians and helped them be active participants in worship. Showing congregational responses and hymnody on the screens allows guests to feel a part of worship, not just observers of it. And while no one would argue that projectors and screens are a cure-all for all the challenges that face the church, it does go a long way in providing a welcoming invitation to our Lord’s table; an invitation that is symbolic of the one who went to great lengths to eat with those who could use his hospitality most. –Chris Caddell Facebook has been an incredible part of my own spiritual journey in the last few years. Yes, I’ve reconnected with old friends and thoroughly enjoyed that aspect, but it has also brought a presence to the relationships within my community of faith that I didn’t have before. It allows me to stay in virtual contact with friends that I have met on mission trips, some of whom are thousands of miles and many time zones away. There are others that are dear to me, but I may see them only a few times a year at a committee meeting, at council or at a retreat. By reading my Facebook newsfeed, I am informed about their lives in a way that I wasn’t before. Facebook is also a tool to disseminate news about your blog posts. I edit and administer a blog at FivePrinciples.net. By posting links to the blog on my Facebook wall, I share those
Kelley Kimble is an associate district judge in Uvalde County and a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Uvalde. Reach her at Kelley@uvaldecounty.com, Kelley kimble on Facebook, and @ktkimble on Twitter.
We can play there, too
get to ReflectionsOnline with our new QR link.
Download a QR reader app to your smart phone (we recommend i-nigma or TapMedia), then click on the app and position your phone over this symbol (as if you were taking a photo).When it comes into focus it will go to www. reflections-dwtx. org, where you will find this issue and more articles for your spiritual journey.
– Fall/Winter 2011
The Last Word by the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge
s most of you know, Catherine and I have recently returned from your gift of a sabbatical and we are deeply grateful to you for what was a wonderful time of renewal, rest, and refreshment. The opportunity to step back from my daily responsibilities and focus on renewal of mind, body, and spirit was a blessing that exceeded all of my expectations; and they were already high going in! As I begin my 30th year of ordination in 2012, I do so from a renewed place of thanksgiving, joy, and enthusiasm for the Gospel of Christ. Thank you again. I am also aware that my recent experience is not the norm; certainly it isn’t for me. Therefore, I want to offer a few words of reflection on how we all might look at hitting the “reset” button without taking a months-long sabbatical. I have a good friend who is the computer technology expert in his company, and he says that much of his work consists of telling his co-workers to fix their computer problems by turning off their computers, waiting a few minutes, and then turning it back on. In other words, “reboot.” He indicates this fixes about half the problems, and he’s off for another cup of coffee. He loves his job. My cable TV company always starts with this same advice (“unplug the box, hit the reset button”) when we call with a problem. Sure enough, it works much of the time. All of us need to find a few moments in a busy, hectic day to “reboot, unplug, and hit the reset button.” I have found that in the midst of tension, difficulty, busyness, and stress, I am able to carry
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
on much more effectively if I can take a moment or moments - to take a break from the immediate situation and step back. Of course, sabbatical offered me the opportunity to follow this advice in an extended manner, but I’m not on sabbatical most of the time. This means I have to discipline myself to remember this advice daily and then act on it. I have found that the more I practice pausing and “rebooting” in a situation, the more natural it becomes. When I remember that God has blessed me with a life -- and that life will include moments of indescribable joy, deep grief, and smaller irritations on a daily basis, I am reminded of the ancient wisdom from Psalm 46.10 to “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is then that I am able to more fully understand and appreciate what it means to be led “beside still waters” (Psalm 23.2). This comes to you with my prayer that as we go about our daily responsibilities -- our daily callings -- that we might remember how important it is to take a mini-sabbatical by “unplugging, rebooting, and resetting” ourselves so that we might more fully grow into the instruments of grace which God calls us to be. If this “rebooting” works with my computer and my cable box, how much more might it work with living human beings.
The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas P O Box 6885 San Antonio TX 78209 www.dwtx.org
Send address changes to The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, P O Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209
It doesn’t have to end like this . . . Reflections continues online at www.reflections-dwtx.org Where you can • find more resources about breaking away • talk back to the authors • comment on the articles • join the conversation about finding the holy in your ordinary life
Get there fast with our new QR link. Download a QR reader app to your smart phone (we recommend i-nigma or TapMedia), then click on the app and position your phone over this symbol (as if you were taking a photo). When it comes into focus it will go to www. reflections-dwtx.org.
The spiritual formation magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas