A breath of fresh air

My energy has been low, and, frankly, kind of sad and heavy these last few weeks. Yesterday was Good Friday, and I wasn’t looking forward to a day of church services focused on the agony of Jesus’ death.

But instead, I found fresh air.

At the hospital, I co-led an ecumenical service with two dear colleagues — one a Scottish Catholic priest; the other an African-American female non-denominational pastor and National Guard chaplain. And we called it “ecumenical,” but the reality in the chapel seats was that we had a room mostly filled with Catholics.

What I don’t understand in myself is my tendency in my head to go right to that place of assuming I am/we are upsetting/shocking/offending people. And then I worry, and feel uncomfortable. Were the Catholics upset by the preaching of a young female chaplain? By a woman offering communion alongside the Catholic priest?

And the thing is, it was such a lovely service. Moving, loving preaching. Simple, beautiful singing of Taize chants. Time for reflection. Word, and Meal. I got to commune a couple Catholics (!), by their choice. And after the service, men and women came up to me, to Bre, so grateful for the beauty of this service, and for our presence and witness. 

This was a sign of hope. 

This was a sign of God beautifully at work in the world, through diverse gifts and people.

The second Good Friday service I attended was at my own church, Lutheran Church of Hope. We had opportunity to walk a labyrinth. To sit at the cross, rosemary and mint crushed between my fingers, their scent lingering through the evening. Time to pray, to sing, to listen, to be in community with other loving and messy people.

Maya Angelou says “Love recognizes no barriers. 

It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls 

to arrive at its destination full of hope.“

A breath of fresh air.

I’ve spent the week feeling very frustrated with the ELCA, my church, where everywhere I turn I see barriers and road blocks. The air I find is stale, not moving. 

What I want to remember is how it feels to take the risk, and to pay more attention — not to the worry that someone is upset, but to the relief and joy at someone else seeing signs of life. 

I want to pay more attention to how it feels, being living witness to new life in the world. To wonder whether there might be new life in my own soul. 

We’re moving through the season of break-up in Alaska — mud and melting snow and puddles and dog shit, icy mornings and slushy afternoons. It’s a mess. 

But the sun is shining, and the pussy willows are emerging. 

And yeah, it can be really hard sometimes to speak truth, and you sometimes take a lot of crap for it. But you also — I also — breathe life into a suffocating world every time we do it. 

Recognize no barriers.

Jump hurdles.

Leap fences.

Penetrate walls. 

The destination is full of hope.

A breath of fresh air.


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