Special Edition Supplement to The Church News from The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
In this issue Symbols of the Sacred in Ordinary Life - the Rev. Paul Frey Journey to the Heart - the Rev. Mike Marsh Creating Sacred Space - Patricia Brooke The Body Sacred - the Rev. Mary Earle Inviting in the Holy - Drew Cauthorn Letting Go - Jean Beere Beaches - the Rt. Rev. David Reed
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: Sacred Spaces
Symbols of the Sacred in Ordinary Life The Rev. Paul Frey
Inner Space: Journey to the Heart The Rev. Mike Marsh
Creating your Space
11 The Body Sacred
The Rev. Mary Earle
14 Inviting in the Holy
18 Letting Go
In This Issue 3 From the Editor – Not just a Pile of Stones Marjorie George 15 Living It In the Game Dispensing Compassion Ministry in the Midst of Crisis 19 A Prayer for Finding God 20 Go, See, Do 23 The Last Word – Beaches Bishop David Reed
Spring/Summer 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 Cover design, Production Assistance Emmet Faulk, Jr. 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.
The photograph on the cover was taken by Emmet Faulk while on a CREDO retreat at Lake Logan NC in April 2011. He reports, “During a period of quiet reflection, the sun peeked from behind the clouds and cast what looked like a spotlight on a bench near a goldfish pond. When I saw it, I thought, “What a sacred space I’m in.’” I was reminded immediately about the theme of the Spring/Summer issue of Reflections and picked up my camera. The composition captured what I saw. It seems like the bench is beckoning the viewer to be a part of the space.”
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.
from The Editor Not just a Pile of Stones by Marjorie George
enturies ago, before GPS and instant messaging and FaceTime on iPhone, travelers in Scotland and Ireland often marked their way with stones. Big stones. As each traveler passed the marker, he or she would add another rock, until the structure was as high as one could reach. Other pilgrims passed that way and added smaller stones to the pile, in the crevices and spaces between the rocks. Later, these “cairns,” as they came to be called, evolved into holy resting places -- the rocks and stones and pebbles becoming symbols of moments in which pilgrims connected with past and future pilgrims and with God. Hopes, prayers, dreams were attached to the placing of each stone – large or little. None of that was even remotely in my consciousness as I stepped through the door of one of my old familiar haunts several weeks ago. It was the church of my adult formation, a church I had not been in for several years. But it was all the same: the same series of stained glass windows that unfolded the story of creation; the same convex ribbed ceiling that always made me feel as if I were in the inside of the ark upside down; the same red carpet leading up the steps to the altar. There was still no altar rail separating the congregation from the white slab
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altar; our priest had once said the purpose of altar rails was to keep the dogs out, so we got rid of ours. The occasion was the funeral of an old friend, and many more old friends had gathered. It was a sacred moment that traveled back through the decades, making a connection to what had been sacred space for many of us. There was a time when my entire life was beholden to that church. All that was holy happened in relationship to that space: Cursillo, Faith Alive, Marriage Encounter, home Bible studies, young mothers’ groups. There was a time I thought I could never leave that church; and then there was a time I was called to leave that church. They are grace-filled moments that allow us to look back at what was and how it has unfolded into what is, and sitting in my old pew was surely a moment of grace. Once my experience of holy had been confined to a particular place and particular people – but in fact that had really been the launching pad for a spiritual journey that has taken turns I could never have seen. I carry stones from that cairn and plop them into new sacred spaces – a big ol’ wing-back recliner that hosts my morning meditations; my office at home that is carefully outfitted with my idea of creature comforts (the better to write with, my dear); my backyard of trees and bushes and water features and squirrel feeders. In these sacred spaces sometimes the “thin veil” of which the Celts speak -- that transcendent border that separates this world from the very presence of God -- is parted. Past and present and future are gathered up into a holy offering; and I fall to my knees in humbleness, for I have been privy to sacred space.
Reach Marjorie at email@example.com.
www.reflections-dwtx.org Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
Symbols of the Sacred by The Rev. Paul Frey
hanksgiving two years ago, while climbing Enchanted Rock outside of Fredericksburg, Texas, I had reached the summit when a young boy ran up to me very excited and animated. It took a moment, but I realized he was deaf and signing something to me emphatically. Fortunately an older girl with him, who was also deaf, simply pointed at my hat. I pointed back at my hat and mouthed Denver Broncos, holding up my finger saying, “They’re number 1.” The boy yanked open his jacket and, smiling ear to ear, revealed his Denver Broncos t-shirt.
Symbols connect us to the reality they represent. Sometimes we dismiss a symbol, not realizing the power it has over us. A carpet and a flag are both made of fabric -- colored threads woven together. But if I stand up and walk on the American flag someone will be unhappy. Why? The flag is just a piece of fabric like the carpet. The flag is somehow more than just fabric; it represents our beloved country. To deface the symbol is to show disrespect to the country. Symbols connect us to the reality they represent. Sacred spaces do the same thing. When we step into an elevator, we are presented with a panel of symbols, most of them numbers. Each of the numbers represents a real
Reflec tions 2011 Reflec tions– Spring/Summer – Spring/Summer 2011
in ordinary life physical location in the building; if you push the button, that small symbol will connect you to a real place. To push the metaphor further, in some busy buildings, each floor has very distinct characteristics -- different businesses, doctors’ offices, lawyers’ offices, banks, gyms, lobbies, stores, and more. We may see many floors we want to explore, or we may find certain floors totally irrelevant to us. But those floors might be the most important floor to someone else. Think of the many things that connect people with God. Tactile symbols like crosses, rosaries, and prayer shawls; food symbols like bread and wine; visual symbols like candles, windows, and icons; written symbols in the words of Scripture. Places themselves are sometimes symbols: churches, homes, deep places in our own soul; natural places like woods, lakes, rivers, deserts; imaginary places in spiritual exercises; and even dangerous places where God has met us and we have met God.
In 1998, I stood at the altar in the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Jose, Costa Rica. Momentarily I was seven years old again as the smell of my childhood church swept over me. It brought back hidden memories and a heavy sense of God’s love and faithfulness, even though I had not been in that place for more than 30 years. For me, it was a sacred space; for some of the people with me, it was just a rather boring, non-descript Episcopal church. So what are the sacred spaces in our lives that connect us to God? We immediately think of our churches, but if we examine it further we will find other spaces that are our connection points – a favorite chair where we read a morning devotion, the backyard swing, or even the highway along which we drove our oldest child to college for the first time.
Our part is to slow down long enough, listen intently enough, trust enough to allow the connection to happen.
By themselves these places and objects may have great beauty. Or they may be very plain, ordinary symbols and places. By themselves they have no spiritual power. But when approached with reverence by a person who bears the image of God, they have the power to transport us into the presence of the Holy One who made us. They become for us sacred spaces.
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
God speaks to us in special ways in our sacred spaces, those places that connect us with the holy. Our part is to slow down long enough, listen intently enough, trust enough to allow the connection to happen.
The Rev. Paul Frey is rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Laredo TX. Find him at paul_cclaredo@bizlaredo. rr.com.
Journey to the Heart by the Rev. Michael Marsh
â€“ Spring/Summer 2011
hat comes to mind when you hear the word “space”? Physical surroundings? The beauty of creation? The wideopen spaces of West Texas? The final frontier and the voyages of the starship Enterprise? We tend to think of space as a physical reality that is outside of us. We exist in and occupy space. We look at office space, the spaciousness of a new home, the expanse of the night sky. We judge the beauty and potential usefulness of a particular space. All of this is to one degree or another outer space. But is that all there is? What about inner space? Perhaps the outer space we experience every day points to a deeper reality. Perhaps the outward and visible space is mirrored by an inward and invisible space. This is the testimony of Scripture and the early church. Jesus points us to that interior space saying, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:21) and again “Go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Mt. 6:6). The early church understood the importance of this “within-ness” and the inner room as revealed by one of the most well-known sayings of the desert tradition: “Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Scripture and the early church mothers and fathers understood this interior place to be the heart. Our hearts are the dwelling place of God, the temple where we meet with the Lord. Too often we live, speak, think, and even pray as if God were outside of us. The spiritual journey is the journey into the heart. Recall Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Mt. 5:8). Our work, then, is to discover, purify, and live in the heart.
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
The spiritual heart is in the chest and coincides generally with the physical heart, but when we are graced by union with Christ our whole being becomes a heart. Modern culture tends to associate the heart with emotions, feelings, and sentimentality. This is not, however, the teaching of holy Scripture or the church mothers and fathers. Christian anthropology places the emotions and feelings in the gut, not in the heart. The heart is the place of spiritual intellect and knowing. It is the place where Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them” (Lk. 2:19). The heart is the point of self-transcendence, where our human personhood is taken up into the life of God. It is the meeting place of divinity and humanity, the uncreated and the created, the spiritual and the physical, the eternal and the temporal, God’s grace and
“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” human free will. Listen to what St. Macarius says about the heart: Within the heart there are unfathomable depths; there are reception rooms and bedchambers within it, doors and porches and many offices and passages. In it is the workshop of righteousness; in it is the workshop of wickedness. In it is death, and in it is life. The heart itself is only a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil; there are rough and uneven roads; there are precipices; but there too are God and the angels; life is there, and the kingdom; there too is light, and there the apostles, and heavenly cities, and treasures of grace. All things lie within that little space. continued on page 8
■ Journey to the Heart from page 7
he heart then is the innermost self. It is the spiritual center of the whole person; the place where we encounter the power of evil and sin within us and the place where we meet God. The heart is the battlefield for our salvation. Abba Pambo said, “If you have a heart, you can be saved.” To purify and live in the heart is to live in constant awareness of God’s presence and to live in awareness of our deepest identity as grounded in the image and likeness of God. If the heart is the truest dwelling place of God, then it is
the heart is not necessarily a onetime event. Entry into the heart is not the same as entering physical space. In physical space we are either here or there, in or out. Entry into the heart is an ongoing process. The human spirit naturally longs to know God. There is no end to this learning or longing. We aspire to ever-deeper knowledge of God, to enter ever deeper into the heart. Second, entry into the heart is a relationship of intimacy with the Blessed Trinity. In this regard entering the heart is more about a way of being than it is about taking a particular action.
To purify and live in the heart is to live in constant awareness of God’s presence and to live in awareness of our deepest identity as grounded in the image and likeness of God. also our truest home. It is the deepest and most authentic part of our humanity, the place of wholeness and integration. The heart is not only the physical but also the psychic and spiritual center of the human person. It is the point of convergence and union of body, soul, and spirit. It is the means through which we enter into communion with God, discover the true dimension of our personhood in God, and realize ourselves as created in the Divine image and likeness. A few points need to be established before we begin to address the question of how to enter the heart. First, entering
Finally, there is no one “right” way to enter the heart, just as there is no one “right” way or method of falling in love. God’s relationship with each one of us is unique and personal; so is our entry into the heart.
continual repetition of the prayer as we go though our day tending to our work, running errands, waiting in line, driving. Regardless of where we are, who we are with, or what we are doing, this prayer is silently repeated. Second, we set aside regular fixed periods of time in which we sit in silence and solitude saying the prayer either silently or aloud. At these fixed times our sole purpose is to be present with God, to more deeply enter the heart. The Apostle Paul understood the way to the inner heart. In this knowledge, he prayed for his disciples, saying, I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
So, how do we enter the heart? Prayer is always the starting point. The classic prayer for entering the heart is the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” The continual invocation of the Holy Name guides us into inner stillness, silence, and awareness of God – the place of the heart. The Jesus Prayer is generally practiced in two ways. First is the
The Rev. Michael Marsh is rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Uvalde TX. Reach him at marshmk@ stphilipsuvalde.org
– Spring/Summer 2011
Creating Your Space by Patricia Brooke
he author Edward Hays, in his book Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, says that just as travel in space requires a rocket or other spacecraft, pilgrims of inner space need a base to launch them on the journey inward. We need a special space/place of prayer where we are especially willing to be open to meet the Divine Presence. Creating such a sacred space is not like decorating; it is a search for meaning or a process of discovering what has meaning for you. This process reminds us that creating sacred space literally involves putting spirituality into a physical form. Sacred spaces can be a place to stop — be still and listen to the voice of God and deepen that relationship. My first recollection of a sacred space was an “altar” I created some 20 years ago, in my kitchen window. Unconsciously
(or maybe consciously), it grew out of a need for personal space and evolved into sacred space. I realized that I had gathered items and placed them in my window: a small candle, a bird feather, a picture of my sons, a favorite quotation, and some tiny blocks that spelled “friend.” I would stand at that window and offer small prayers of thanksgiving and intercessions at different times of the day or sometimes just “being” — a stillpoint for reflection. Since that time, I have created other altars: at the ranch house in
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
Goliad, the kitchen window holds a turkey feather, heart-shaped rocks, and a candle; upstairs in our bedroom is a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe with a candle. Even in my office when I worked at the Nix Hospital, my space was a bulletin board that was a functional part of my office. It also held Bible quotations, prayers, posters, and other things that were meaningful to me. When my day became hectic, I could turn toward the bulletin board and find a quote to sit with just for a few seconds. More recently, my study in San Antonio has become my sacred space. When we were remodeling our house, this space was to become an office continued on page 10
■ Creating your Space from page 9 but soon became more of a study, and I found myself beginning to create sacred space. I have a comfortable chair with a table that holds my books, my journal, a small water feature, and a candle. This is where I go to meet the Divine Presence almost every morning, beginning my day in prayer. I have added bird feeders outside my French door where I can watch the birds and hummers. It’s a way of bringing creation inside my sacred space. This space in my study is organic, living; it changes from time to time. I may add to it or take something away. The very act of creating sacred space makes us spiritually receptive to the sacred, as well as giving us a physical place to pray or meditate. Joseph Campbell in The Power of the Myth, has this to say: “This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something will eventually happen.”
Putting It Into Practice When creating your own sacred space, be intentional; what is meaningful and reflective of the spirit within you? What has the power to make the presence of God immediate and real to you? Listen to yourself, don’t be in a hurry. Relax and trust the process; visualize your sacred space and decide what speaks to you. Allow the space to invite you from the busyness of your life into that inner stillness where you can meet the Holy. Think about where your space might be and what you might put into it: • A corner of your house or office, maybe a deck or garden outside • A comfortable place to sit, possibly a prayer stool or kneeler • A cloth or fabric • A religious image, icon, cross • An earthen icon, such as a rock, feather, flower • Prayer beads or rosary • A candle, prayer bell or prayer bowl • Devotional, prayer book, Bible, journal • Or maybe even a space empty of images and clutter Sacred space allows us freedom from distraction. It allows us to “enter his gates with thanksgiving,” as we read in Psalm 100 (vs 3) to open our personal window to God’s continuing presence, to be patient and wait to see what happens. Patricia Brooke often leads retreats and seminars. She is a member of St. David’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio TX. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that I have created this sacred space, I need to show up, be present, and wait, trusting that, indeed, something marvelous will happen.
– Spring/Summer 2011
The Body Sacred by the Rev. Mary Earle
suppose it started with my grandfather’s stethoscope. My mother’s father was a physician, the kind of doctor who always carried his black medical bag with him. When my sister and I were young, Pawpaw Joe would let us play with his medical bag, under his supervision. He taught us how to find the heart. He would put the ends of the stethoscope in his ears and quietly listen to our hearts. Then, it would be our turn. Susie and I would each have an opportunity to imitate Pawpaw’s actions and discover anew that distinctive “lub-dub” within our own chests, each other’s, and my grandfather’s. continued on page 12
“You Knit Me Together in My Mother’s Womb” (Ps. 139:12). Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
■ The Body Sacred from page 11 The scandal of receiving the good news of our bodies as sacred space is that we begin to see the implications for how we treat one another, other creatures, and the earth itself. From a young age, the human body has been a miracle to me. The sheer wonder of a heart that beats steadily for a lifetime. The mystery of blood carrying nutrients and oxygen throughout the stunning array of capillaries. The quiet, miraculous work of the liver, cleansing and clearing toxins from the body. Bones growing and lengthening in an adolescent child’s body. Scratches on the skin healing over, as if there had never been a wound. When I was pregnant for the first time, I became acutely aware that within our bodies, God’s own Spirit is present at every moment, creating new cells, sustaining life, healing and making organs new. I was working as a counselor for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. The physicians in the department, particularly the woman infertility specialist, would stop me and ask how I was feeling, and how far along the pregnancy was. Often something along these lines would follow: “So, this week the eyes are forming.” Or, “About now, that baby’s lungs are getting stronger.” I realized that I was housing a life, a life I could support with nutrition, exercise and rest. Yet in no way was I making the baby who would later be Bryan Earle. I was cooperating. However, I was not the Author of this work. Those organs, eyes, fingers, toes, ears, eyelashes, and mouth were all being brought forth and shaped by Life working within life. All of these primary experiences of God’s presence within the sanctuary of the body had led me to sense the sacredness of the body. Then I started going to
a young mothers’ Bible study and reading theology. Lo and behold, at the heart of our Christian faith is the astounding confession that in Jesus, the life of God is revealed in and through a real human body. As a friend of mine used to say, “God loves bodies so much that God just had to have one.” Years ago when I was serving as an examining chaplain in theology for this diocese, seminarians hoping to be ordained were often asked questions along these lines: “Did Jesus ever have a belly ache?” “Did Jesus need diapers?” “Could Jesus have had a migraine?” The purpose of the questions was to point toward the scandal of the Incarnation. Jesus, truly human, truly in a body, lived human life from the inside out. One of the many contemplative dimensions of salvation history is this: Jesus reminds us that our bodies are creations of the living Trinity. Our bodies, even when they don’t work the way we want them to, especially when they don’t work the way we want them to, are creative expressions of God’s own eternal life, here and now. Of course, what is true for my body is true for yours, and for all bodies in the world. The scandal of receiving the good news of our bodies as sacred space is that we begin to see the implications for how we treat one another, other creatures, and the earth itself. If our bodies are so cherished by God, then abuse and self-abuse, rape, and violence are horrific to the point of desecration. Our culture has forgotten this completely. We who call ourselves Christians walk in a Way that remembers that God loves matter. “The Word of God, who is God, wills at all places and at all times to work the mystery of his embodiment.”
– Spring/Summer 2011
So wrote Maximus the Confessor in the 7th century as he articulated the faith anew. How to begin to receive the sacredness of your own body? Start by giving thanks in a specific way: “Thank you for my heart that beats. Thank you for the teeth I still have. Thank you for this skin. Thank you for my eyelashes and for my eyes.” Keep thanking. Keep adding to the list. And, when you fall ill, or someone you love does, name the illness as you intercede, and keep on thanking the living God, deep at work in the sub-atomic particles of the molecules of your cells. Keep on thanking the God who deigns to dwell within your body and the bodies of the whole human family. Then remember to pray for all bodies, for those who suffer from a malady such as yours, for those who have no recourse to medical care. Most importantly, rejoice in the fact of your breathing, digesting, moving, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. Allow yourself to receive the grace extended to you through this primary habitat of the body.
“For you yourself created my inmost parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will thank you because I am marvelously made; Your works are wonderful, and I know it well. (Ps. 139:12-13).
The Rev. Mary Earle is a writer, teacher, retreat leader and author-in-residence at The WorkShop, a ministry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio TX. Reach her at mcearle48@ gmail.com.
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
Inviting in the Holy
because I wanted to be more than just an attorney.
by Drew Cauthorn
have, of late, been reading the Torah and the accompanying commentary written by a Jewish scholar. One can’t read the Torah without getting into the subject of “holy.” The Torah teaches that God’s presence is what makes a place holy. Which leads to a question -- what in my office, what in the way I live and practice law, invites God to be present to make my work life and work place holy? That question was not on the radar screen when I planned my new office back in 1984 after I had headed out on my own; though, I can say that when I met with the decorator I told her I wanted a place that felt safe, where people would feel comfortable. Some years into the practice, one of my clients, a fine, older gentleman, was sued by the U.S. government for allegedly overcharging on a government contract. I referred him to a litigator. The government sought to take the gentleman’s deposition and he initially refused, which would have resulted in his forfeiture. The litigator called me to ask if the deposition could be taken in my office — the gentleman refused to have his deposition taken unless it was taken in my office. I believe he was not willing to have his deposition taken elsewhere because he felt safe in my office. Another thing I recall when I was opening my office was choosing stationery and a business card. I intentionally chose to put on it “Attorney and Counselor at Law” rather than just “Attorney at Law”
I did not think of Isaiah 9:6 (“And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor”) when I chose to put “Counselor of Law” on my card but as I reflect now, I believe there was an underlying desire for the Wonderful Counselor to be present with me and my clients. My experience is that clients often come in with specific legal problems they want resolved with desired outcomes. However, what sometimes emerges, when a client is listened to and questioned, is something entirely different — an underlying burr, a hurt, a worry that fuels the legal issue at hand. When that “something” is brought into the light, all kinds of creative possibilities open up. Those are moments of grace that I am privileged to be present for. Karl Jung said, “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” I’m thankful that is so. I’m also thankful that we have open to us avenues for inviting the Holy to be present where we live and where we work.
Drew Cauthorn is a sole practitioner and Of Counsel to the law firm of Hornberger Sheehan Fuller & Beiter. He is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio TX.
– Spring/Summer 2011
Living It In the Game by the Rev. Scott Brown
y morning routine is liturgical. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I quietly brush my teeth, trying not to waken my wife and sons. I tip-toe to the living room, where I get dressed, carefully putting on all the equipment that is necessary for my adventure and head out the door between 5:28 and 5:32 am. The commute is about 8 minutes long, and by 5:40 I’m just seconds away from one of the most holy parts of my day. My holy space is not quiet. Actually it’s loud. There is no altar in my holy space, no pews, no crucifix. I am not alone in this place; instead I am joined by 8-15 grown men like myself, all here for the same reason. From the insurance agent to the CPA, from the school superintendant to the real estate appraiser, we all show up faithfully, simply because we love to play basketball.
Holy is defined as “sacred” or “set apart.” My morning basketball game is one of the most holy times of my entire week, and Stuart Place Elementary School Gymnasium is definitely my holy space. I love everything about the game of basketball. I love the teamwork. I love seeing the big picture. I love the competition. When God first spoke to Moses through the burning bush, God told Moses that the ground he was standing on was “holy ground.” The ground didn’t become holy when Moses stepped on it. The ground was made holy when Moses became aware of God’s presence there. As I recall that familiar Old Testament story it occurs to me that all spaces have the potential to be sacred, not because we enter them or declare them as such, but rather simply because we’re aware that God has been present there long before we arrived. And if God can be present in a burning bush, maybe there is no limit to the places we can experience holiness.
My morning game concludes by 6:45, and I’m back at home at 6:53, just in time to greet my family as they wake up. It’s the perfect start to my day. Having just spent one hour doing something I love to do, I now face the rest
of my day with enthusiasm and joy that otherwise would be hard to manufacture. And having just found some peace and joy in an elementary school gymnasium assures me that once you’ve found holiness in one place, you can find it anywhere.
The Rev. Scott Brown is rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Harlingen TX. Reach him at email@example.com.
Dispensing Compassion by Barbara Duffield and the Rev. Al Snyder The Rev. Al Snyder is the military chaplain for the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. In this capacity, he regularly visits patients in the military hospitals in San Antonio – frequently uninvited by the patients. Barbara Duffield visited with Snyder recently and asked how he sees God at work as he makes his rounds.
he best way I know to answer is this: Sometimes when you walk into a room, you can tell by the person’s face, even if they don’t say
it, that you might as well turn around and walk out the door. They don’t want you there, they won’t hear you, and you are just not going to accomplish anything by staying. And still you stay. Then sometimes when I enter a room, the person is so angry that the minute I walk in wearing a collar I am on the receiving end of all their anger – they just vomit it all over me. And that’s ok – they needed to do it. But once in a while, I have the privilege of being continued on page 16
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
from page 15
Compassion from page 15 there when someone really wants me to be, needs me to be. I remember a young man who had lost his legs and no one could get him to talk. I visited him several times and he was just filled with anger. He yelled and cursed at me, and I just sat and then said I’d be back again. After several visits, the day finally came when I went in and he didn’t yell at me. I asked him a few questions and he didn’t respond much and so I said, “I’ll be back again in a few days,” and he said, “Chaplain, wait.” He called me back and asked why I kept coming, and that was the beginning of our relationship. I continued to visit with him several times and then the day came that I got to the ward and the young man had been sent home for rehab; I didn’t even get to say goodbye. A year or more later, I was making rounds and a man walked up to me – on prosthetic legs – and said, “Chaplain, do you remember me?” I answered, “Yes, I do.” It was the soldier I had known. That was worth all the anger he had thrown my way. That young man was upright and walking – he was married and raising a family, and I was blessed to see it. That’s when I see God at work, and the room becomes holy. Barbara Duffield works in the diocesan communications department. She is a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Universal City TX. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ministry in the Midst of Crisis by the Rt. Rev. Francisco Moreno, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Mexico The Diocese of Northern Mexico lies in part along the border between Texas and Mexico, where violence is commonplace. Bishop Moreno and his parishioners live in constant turmoil and danger; still they refuse to give up being the presence of Christ in the midst of the devastation. Below, Bishop Moreno writes of the ministry they won’t give up.
he world we live in becomes more violent day by day. Men and women’s attitudes, by negligence or circumstances beyond their control, have allowed this violence, and we live with the consequences day after day. We can see the consequences all over the world in events which we cannot evade. Here in Mexico we live with this violence in one of its darkest and most insidious forms: drug wars violence, the violence of the “narcos.” This violence unleashed in my country is the result of the many people who’ve succumbed to the vice of these drugs. With impunity, men -- protected from justice by the power of the arms provided by stronger and unscrupulous powers -- sow terror in every corner, from border to border of our beloved mother country. But we live here. Our ministry is here, in the North of our country, in the border cities of Juárez, Matamoros, Piedras Negras, Reynosa, Rio Bravo; and in the interior cities like Tampico and Monterrey, Chihuahua, and Ciudad Cuauhtémoc. All of them feel the harsh lash of this wave of destruction we live with day by day. Our home has become a zone of fear and terror for all. It takes many forms; many of us have been hurt by kidnapping,
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blockades, and assaults. We have found ourselves in the middle of gun battles. We have suffered, or been threatened with armed robbery or home invasions, or by blackmail in the form of buying “protection” for our business or family. We exercise our ministry in the midst of the terror that causes these inconveniences.Yet our message is not one of fear; our message is much greater than that. Our message is centered in what Jesus asks of us: to preach the salvation message of the kingdom of God; to proclaim the peace and hope that the love of God in Christ manifests; and to trust the integrity of His Word. Do you have faith in his word? Then demonstrate it! Perhaps you will
for the privilege of this testing that God allows us to experience. Leaving our houses each day we place our hope of return in the hands of God. We don’t worry too much about the dangers, but focus on fulfilling the task in front of us. We trust that if the action is good, God will take care of us. As we go, we place each person in our homes into God’s hands, crying out for His mercy to care for our children and family members going to school, to work, to church. And we hurry out with our eyes open, our hearts ready to endure whatever comes, adrenaline pumping, to do what we have been given to do. While we sense that the danger of death is ever present, we know that we are always in the hands of the God whom we trust. Thankfully not all is bitter; there are wonderful moments, and as each day draws to a close, we are grateful. When we return home in the evening as the sun is setting and we see the bright stars begin to shine, we give thanks again, asking the God of all mercy for his grace to remain with us until his sun rises again on the horizon of our lives. We pray for his strength to run the race to fulfill what Christ requires, a life of daily prayer, praying for the hope of change and the end of this storm, giving thanks for the security that bit by bit is improving.
help others whose faith is weak and hope will grow because “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of selfdiscipline” (2 Tim. 1:7). Here we will continue, seeking to grow the faith of our people, of our congregations. We cannot stop and hide. We must continue walking forward, always trusting our Lord’s promise, “I will always be with you.” We feel the fear, but we do not let it paralyze us nor force us to bury our heads in the sand denying reality. On the contrary, it sharpens our senses and increases our discernment, helping us to see how important it is to seek the One to whom our lives belong. This is the road that enables us to analyze our faith, our conversion, and our faithfulness to the message we preach, giving thanks
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
For now we give thanks to God, who loves us. After all we are his children. We walk the road he has given us in faith and obedience and hope trusting in his promise. Lord Jesus Christ, defend your people from all danger, keep us from all evil, save us from violent death, guide our lives in the path of safety, send your angels to protect us, and do not let the evil one cut short a life whose days belong only to you, the Lord of all, to whom we will gratefully surrender this life to rejoice in your eternal presence. Amen. The Episcopal churches along the border have a continuing ministry with their Anglican brothers and sisters in Northern Mexico. To learn more about the ministry, contact the Rev. Scott Brown at email@example.com.
Letting Go o f you r Sa c red Sp ace by Jean Beere
was 19 and newly married. My husband and I had moved to Houston and needed to buy a couch for the apartment. We tried looking in several stores, but I never saw a couch that I really liked until we stepped into a Scandinavian store and there it was -- my couch. The design was streamlined off-white with burlap upholstery. That couch followed me from Houston, to Austin, to California, to Florida, and then back to San Antonio. And always, that couch has been my safe place, a place where I can sit and be with God, and God be with me, and be with my memories. It sat in the living room along with two barrel chairs that just happened to be made of the same material. They were a set -- a perfect complement to the southwest décor that the living room seemed to have evolved into. My couch has seen parties, gatherings, Bible studies; it has been used as a bed by friends, youth, and me when I needed “my space.” It has seen me through the good times and bad times of my marriage and has helped me raise my two girls. It also helped me bury the youngest of my girls, Carly, now going on nine years ago. I was on that couch at one o’clock in the morning the day after she was killed, saying to my mom, “How do I breathe?” My couch held me. It was with me through the end of my marriage, my oldest daughter moving back home, then her engagement, wedding and, sadly for me, her moving out. Through it all, my couch has been my safe place. Countless hours have been spent
sitting on the couch watching life move on inside and outside of my house. I couldn’t walk pass that friend of mine without memories filling my mind. I was positive that I would never get rid of my safe place, my couch. It kept me where I felt the safest. For the past few months now, I have been preparing my house for my oldest daughter, Crystal, her husband, and my granddaughter to move back in with me. They want to pay off their bills, save some money to purchase some land, and build a house. The biggest draw is my granddaughter, Merrick. Who can say no to the chance of living with your granddaughter for a year or two? I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to pack up my things to make room for the kids. I had to reorganize the kitchen, pack up some items from the living room, move myself to the guest bathroom, and move all of my stuff into the spare bedroom. I packed up Carly’s room, getting it ready for my granddaughter. All of my memories have been neatly
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packed, marked in boxes, and put on the shelves in the garage. My plan is that when the kids move out, I will drag out all my stuff and sit and go through it. A few days before the big move, I was looking at my garage, admiring the storage space, when I heard the Spirit speak to me. “Do you get it yet, girlfriend? This is where you have been.” Sure, I thought. But time was running short and I needed to go see what else needed to be done. I ignored the Spirit. But He followed me into the house and continued to talk to me. As I looked at my empty bedroom, He had something else to say to me. “When the kids move out, you will make this house your own.” This time, I said, “Yes, you are right.” I had to listen this time, I was talking back. I looked at Carly’s room, soon to be Merrick’s, and envisioned what it will look like in the future. I saw all my walls painted a neutral, modern color. I saw modern accessories mixed in alongside “a few” of my past mementos. Then I went into the living room, now only half of what it was, which included giving the barrel chairs to my nephew. I saw my couch, my safe place, and I heard the Spirit tell me to say good-bye. I cried. Sounds stupid that I would feel this way about a couch. But I realized that my safe place had stopped me from being new. My safe place had stopped me from moving into the new life God has planned for me. It was good at keeping me where I was. It was
good at being patient while I moved along into my healing process. But perhaps my safe place was keeping me too safe, and now I need my life to belong to me. As long as I had my couch, I stayed where I was. I needed to start new memories, none of which would diminish the old ones. I need a new safe place. Right now, I can’t tell you where my new safe place will be, but I know that God will provide one where I will be forced to depend on the Holy Spirit even more to help me. Maybe that’s where my safe place should really be. As long as the Holy Spirit is with me, I will be in my safe place. By the way, my couch has now gone to my other nephew who told me he would love it and take care of it. But he is a 23-year-old single male -- I’m sure he will do the best he can.
A Prayer for Finding God by Maurleen Cobb
Heavenly Father, As I go about my daily life, help me to open all my senses to what you are trying to share with me. Help me to not get caught up in the secular trappings of what the world would say is a sacred place but to allow you to show me what that sacred place is for me at that moment in my life. Amen. To me a sacred place is just the location where a sacred moment can occur. Maybe it was my nomadic upbringing and life as a military child, member, and spouse, but I have always had a hard time defining one place that is THE place where I will encounter the Holy.ofI have Episcopal Diocese West always known that for me a
sacred place is the place where I am when I feel the peace that God is there with me.
Jean Beere is a member of St. George Episcopal Church, San Antonio TX and a member of the staff of the Diocese of West Texas. Reach her at jean.beere@ dwtx.org.
Taps was playing when I was on duty at field training; they include caravaning through Iraq and realizing that I was in the fertile crescent, the very beginning of God’s creation. Today my sacred place is sitting at my computer remembering those moments in my life when God was with me, sharing those moments with you, and feeling my heart swell with his grace.
Maurleen Cobb is a member of
My sacred spaces include St. Mark’s Episcpal Church in San holding my son in my arms the Antonio TX, a lawyer, and an first time we were alone, just me Air Force reservist. Reach her at and the baby, in the hospital after firstname.lastname@example.org. he was born. My sacred spaces Texas include a Louisiana sunsetwww.reflections-dwtx.org as
Go, See, Do this summer and fall Summer Camps for children in third grade through high school graduates run June
through August. One-week camps are held at Camp Capers, the diocesan camping center in Waring, Texas. Sessions are organized in four age groups (grades 3-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12). The goal of the camps is to strengthen children’s relationship with Christ and with each other. For more info: Jean Beere at (210) 824-5387 or email@example.com.
Family Camps at Mustang Island Conference Center run June
through September. Families room together, eat together, play and learn together and with other families. Weekends start on Friday and end Sunday. eleven sessions are offered. For more info: Lynn Corby at 361-749-1800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Called Back to the Well is a nine-month program of spiritual renewal for congregations in which teams of clergy and lay people participate together. It will be offered at Oblate Seminary in San Antonio, August 2011 through May 2012. For details: the Rev. Sue Joiner at 505-332-8020 or email@example.com.
Happening Weekends #119, Aug. 5-7 at Church of the Good Shepherd in Corpus
Christi and #120, Nov. 18-20 at St. Philip’s, Uvalde, offer spiritual renewal weekends for students in grades 10 through 12 that are modeled after Cursillo. Weekend leaders are all high school students. For more info: Jean Beere at (210) 824-5387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cursillo Weekends #254, October 13-16, at Mustang Island Conference Center and
#255, November 10-13, at Camp Capers. Cursillo (pronounced ker-see-yo) is a three-day weekend for adults that encourages lay people to examine their own walk with Christ and equips them to take Christ into the world. For more info: Leigh Saunders at (210) 824-5387 or email@example.com. The annual Diocesan Arts Festival will be hosted this year by St. Francis Episcopal Church in San Antonio (northwest part of town – address 4242 Bluemel Rd.) October 28-30. Diocesan artists in several genres will display pieces for viewing and for sale. For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org. The annual Dallas Benedictine Retreat is June 22-26 at the Catholic Conference and Formation Center. For five days, men and women, clergy and lay, form a temporary monastic community to live The Rule of Benedict as it divides each day into private and corporate prayer, study, work, and rest. For details: (214) 339-8483 or email@example.com.
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The diocesan Department of World Mission will sponsor its annual Mission Symposium on August 20 at the Bishop Jones Center in San Antonio. Topic and speaker have not been announced, but for more details: Betty Chumney at (210) 824-5387 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three OrderUp restaurants in San Antonio will donate 15 percent of the pre-tax receipt total when you dine there and write “DWTX World Mission” on the back of your receipt. OrderUp locations at Lincoln Heights, The Colonnade, and Stone Ridge (www.orderup-sa.com for addresses) are participating from May 1 through September 1. Dine often for a good meal and donate to the diocesan world mission program. For details, Marthe Curry at (210) 824-5387 or email@example.com.
for Your Personal Growth Celtic Christianity, Essential Writings, Annotated and Explained will give readers an introduction to the Celtic tradition and understanding. Written by the Rev. Mary Earle, a frequent contributor to Reflections, the book covers the creation, prayer in daily life, pilgrimage, the Incarnation, and blessing. Publisher is Skylight Paths Illumination Series; the book should be on shelves by June.
The WorkShop in San Antonio, a ministry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, is hosting Centering Prayer sessions every Wednesday, 5 to 6 p.m. No charge, no registration, no commitment -- come as you are. Leader is Marianne Carter. The WorkShop is located in the Los Patios complex at 2015 NE Loop 410, San Antonio TX 78217. For more contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll have to wait ‘til the camping season is over, but starting in September you can take a personal retreat at Sol y Sombre, the retreat house at Camp Capers. The small, onebedroom house has a full kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room. Cost is minimal. Book a day-long, overnight, or several-day retreat through the diocesan office -- call Laura Woodall at (210) 824-5387 or email@example.com.
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
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Get more Reflections at www.reflections-dwtx.org John E. de Montel, Financial Advisor Princor Registered Representative Retirement Plans & Retirement Planning 361-855-2500x290 firstname.lastname@example.org www.arvakfinancialservices.com Securities and advisory products offered through Princor Financial Services Corporation, 800-247-1737, Member SIPC, Des Moines IA 50392. Arvak Financial Services is not an affiliate of Princor.
â€“ Spring/Summer 2011
The Last Word Beaches by the Rt. Rev. David Reed “Down around Biloxi, pretty girls are dancing in the sea/ They all look like sisters in the ocean.” -- Biloxi by Jimmy Buffett Years ago, what I felt to be true from childhood found expression in something I heard Bishop Scott Field Bailey say, quoting (I think) one of our Anglican great-grandfathers: “Until you find God in one place, you won’t find him in any place. But once you have found him in one place, you will find him in every place.” So, first and foremost, my experience of sacred space begins in God’s house, among God’s people. Before I was conscious of being formed and forgiven, restored and re-formed, that’s what God’s Spirit was up to in the regular and seasonal and annual rhythms of prayer, Scripture, hymn, and sacrament. I encountered holiness years before I had any words with which to talk about it. Having found (and been found by) God in and with the Church, I can now write chapters on the sacred spaces in which I have found myself: kitchen table, campfire, hospital room and ER, mountain top and el monte, forest trail and fishing boat, hunting blind and library, classrooms and chapels, in quiet conversations and rowdy camp singing. You’d think, as often as I’m reminded that God chooses to reveal his power, his life, and his love through such ordinary stuff as water, bread, and wine, that I’d get over being surprised to discover him in all these other places, but it hasn’t happened yet. And always, always, I find Him on the beaches of South Padre Island and Boca Chica, which have been constants “in the midst of the changes and chances of this life” (BCP, p. 133). Like church, I was taken to the beach long before I can remember. (I’ve seen the black-and-white photos.) It will be the same way for our children. Like all sacred places where we meet God, the beach is both shelter and training ground. Over the years, I’ve found healing for my aching
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
body, weary soul and broken heart. And I’ve been challenged to get up, get the sand out of my shorts, and get over it. Sacred places draw us out of ourselves and toward the awe and wonder of God a nd yet, they root us more firmly in this life. The beach has a wonderful knack for lifting my thoughts heavenward, and then . . . I step on an oyster shell or a crab or get really sunburned -- humbling reminders that our spiritual lives are always embodied. Sacred places offer us different lenses by which to consider God and ourselves, to look and really see, and to listen and really hear. In the beach’s continuous variations -- light, colors, tides, skies, people -- I sometimes am reminded of a line from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.” At the beach, I can sometimes see as through a microscope, discovering life and beauty in normally overlooked things. Sometimes, it’s like looking through a telescope: things which are usually far beyond me are somehow brought closer. And sometimes, beach time is like looking in a mirror. I often find myself, for better and for worse, at the beach. I’ll take a look at my life and be so grateful, and in such need of mercy. And it’s then that I go into the water, and floating, rising and falling on the waves, I feel for awhile weightless, graceful, new like a loved child at the beginning of summer. In the water, we all look like sisters and brothers of Jesus.
The Rt. Rev. David Reed is suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.
Episcopal Diocese of West Texas P O Box 6885 San Antonio TX 78209 www.dwtx.org
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It doesn’t have to end like this . . . Reflections continues online at www.reflections-dwtx.org Where you can • find more resources about sacred spaces • talk back to the authors • comment on the articles • join the conversation about finding the holy in your ordinary life
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