One Pause Changes Everything

comma

I really love this poem by Brian Shivers. I thought I would share it with you today.

One Pause Changes Everything (A Poem)

No one cares.
No,
one cares.

No one sees me.
No,
one sees me.

No one hears me.
No,
one hears me.

No one accepts me.
No,
one accepts me.

No one loves me.
No,
one loves me.

— bshivers

Brian Shivers is currently the Senior Associate Pastor for Spiritual Life at Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN. He has been at Second in various roles since the summer of 1990. 

He loves sharing life with Jennifer, partner for over 30 years, and Allison, their amazing 19 year old daughter. They are honored that a chocolate lab, named Latte, and a tuxedo cat, Bella, allow them to live in their home.

Names

[I found this image here].

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear some folks encourage a particular person, and I noticed that something kept happening quite naturally. Instead of simply saying, 

“We’re with you. . . We believe in you. . . We know you can do this. . .”

they also kept adding the person’s name:

“We’re with you, [Name]. . . We believe in [Name]. . . We know you can do this, [Name].”

Throughout all of this, I was reminded of how powerful names can be. In the context of expressing love, gratitude, or encouragement, names themselves can be words of deep affection.

After I had already been pondering this, in a different context, a friend said that she wanted to hear her name more. She felt like people hadn’t said her name as often lately, a name she shares with a relative she lost years ago.

Perhaps somewhere within us, we are all longing to be addressed by name. This sacred process of speaking and hearing names comes from a place of being known and honored as the ones we are. We are seen and cared for in all our particularities.

When addressing others with love, gratitude, and encouragement, I’m going to start speaking names much more often and much more intentionally.

Renee Roederer 

Love Your Neighbor


When asked, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Love God

– and – 

Love Neighbor

There are many Christians that go out of their way to try to convince others that God is real and worth loving. But what happens when those same Christians hold a concept of God that isn’t very loving? An ‘understanding’ of God doesn’t inspire love of neighbors? A view of God that even tolerates or promotes the exclusion, harm, and abuse of neighbors?

It makes me wonder. . . 

Rather than starting with some heady, propositional-theology concept of God – even one authentically to be loved –

What if we just love our neighbors?

What if we make a radical, joyful commitment to care for our neighbors’ wellbeing, celebrate our neighbors’ worth, and live in empathy and justice?

Of course, some would say that we can’t really even understand or practice love, care, celebration, empathy, or justice apart God’s revelation.

But since God’s revelation is always incarnational, we will undoubtedly discover love, care, celebration, empathy, and justice in the presence of our neighbors.

Maybe we if start with love for neighbor, we’ll actually discover a loving God.

Renee Roederer

The Sacred Otherwise

swirl

Every single thing that happens is born of particularity.

The largest things and the smallest things, alike —
who we know and love,
what routines we’ve developed,
how we’re partnered,
what our daily work looks like,
even what we’ve had for breakfast —
these may not have happened at all, except very particular factors lined up.

He showed up at a meeting.

A conversation brought synergy.

She asked me for a favor.

We missed the plane.

A job ad suddenly came into view.

I got fed up.

Someone told them they were really good at this.

A new question emerged in her mind.

Every bit of this is particularity. Most of life has an “it wouldn’t have happened this way, except” attached. I love to think about this.

And here’s a Real Mystery:

At times, we might sit back and marvel that some the best gifts of our lives,
the very best people and opportunities for whom we feel an immense amount of gratitude, might not have come into being in the way they have, and may not even exist!
except for the fact that we experienced a major life detour —
at times, one we would have never chosen, and one we may not have wanted at all.

We might look at these people, opportunities, and life rhythms as expressions of
The Sacred Otherwise.

Yes!
The Sacred Otherwise. . .

Without the detour —
the interruption,
the disruption,
the loss,
the departure,
the frustration —
we wouldn’t have had these other experiences.

Plan B, C, D, ad infinitum are very holy, because they are expressions of life that might not have existed at all. This is true with most things, in fact.

They are the Sacred Otherwise.

This doesn’t mean that the detours, interruptions, disruptions, losses, departures, and frustrations were gifts in and of themselves. In fact, they might still ache somewhere within us.

But even then, even there,
The Sacred Otherwise is born of particularity.

And so we marvel.

Renee Roederer

 

Choose That Which is Choosing You

Moon

If you close your eyes and awaken your awareness,

If you inhale deeply and let that breath fill every part of your being,

If you allow yourself to sit with the Question —
really and truly, as if you were taking it out for tea,
it will inhabit you,
it will enliven you,
it will call you by name,
and you will know what I’m talking about.

You will be familiar with the Question,
because it keeps making itself familiar to you.

It is that Question that keeps rising again
inside your being,
like an enormous, beckoning moon,
and the mysterious tide She consistently summons.

Yes, listen.
Stand on the shore of the horizon
and welcome the Question revealed in the waves
of
longing
lingering
dreaming.

. . . that Idea that keeps returning,
. . . that Love that keeps emerging,
. . . that Path that keeps arriving,

Listen. . .
In the swell of waves,
Ah, there it is –
Won’t you?

It sounds for you –
Won’t you?

Hear it resound and expand –
Won’t you choose that which is choosing you?

Renee Roederer

 

 

Well, Bless Your Heart, Son of Spinach

Among our neighbors in the backyard, is a groundhog. His name is Son of Spinach (at least to us, anyway).

We don’t see him everyday, but he has a den nearby, so from time to time, he shows up in our backyard. And to say something both true and alliterative, Son of Spinach is so overly skittish. At the smallest noise, he runs away to hide, sometimes under our deck. This quality feels like an endearing, funny, sad combo.

Today, Son of Spinach was feasting himself on grass quite out-in-the-open in our backyard this morning. And when I made a slight sound to unlock our screen door, he ran for cover under the deck. I found myself wondering, how long will he stay down there? How much recoup time is necessary for the popping sound of a lock? How long will it be before he feels safe again?

Then, I thought of us – that is, we humans. We hide and recoup too. Sometimes, we need alone time or sustained opportunities for self and community care.

But other times, we just doubt ourselves.

When it comes to the second, I hope we know there’s a whole out-in-the-open living opportunity for us.

Renee Roederer

The World is Waiting for the Sunrise. . .

reid

Accompanying the joyful sounds of the piano, bass, and trumpet, we sang particular words over and over again last night. We even broke into spontaneous dancing.

The world is waiting, for the sunrise, for the sunrise. . .
The world is waiting, for the sunrise, for the sunrise. . .

Our hearts were full, and we felt very alive.

We were welcoming a new academic year, even as we shared a heartfelt goodbye. Last night in Ann Arbor at Canterbury House, we celebrated the ministry of our good, local colleague and friend, Reid Hamilton. He has been the Chaplain of Canterbury House for thirteen years. As I joked last night, that’s a whole teenager of time.

At the University of Michigan, Canterbury House has cultivated a sacred, nurturing space for decades, and Reid has brought himself fully to it. During that time, thousands of people have also entered the house and added themselves to the vision of this community.

Some have come for rest and worship.

Canterbury House is an Episcopalian ministry center with weekly worship, combining musical and liturgical elements of Taize and Jazz in a rare and beautiful art form. Over the years together, we have heard sacred texts, shared convicting words, and gathered around the grace of the Eucharist celebration.

Some have come for hospitality and meals.

Canterbury House provides weekly suppers for students and community members, creating a welcoming space where people can be themselves in the presence of one another. Over the years together, we have sat around many tables in this kind of friendship, welcome, and hospitality.

Some have come for celebration and music.

Canterbury House is a thriving concert venue. In partnership with local artists and the Jazz Department at the University of Michigan, musicians perform and inspire. Over the years together, we have been fortunate to experience the craft and vision of numerous young musicians.

Some have come for justice and local action.

Canterbury House provides a meeting space for a number of local groups who are engaged in community organizing and social action. Over the years, we have been been energized and challenged by the work of young activists and leaders.

It occurs to me that many people in this world are longing for spaces where they can be celebrated, challenged, and called into deeper meaning and relationship. Canterbury House is only one expression of this kind of vision, but perhaps we begin to change the world when we create spaces like these.

So,

For the gift of thirteen years. . . Thank you, Reid Hamilton. Thank you for your service, love, vitality, compassion, and laughter.

And,

For all the years that preceded those and for all who made them possible. . . again, thank you.

And,

For all that will be. . . our gratitude abounds.

There is a simple, beautiful prayer by Dag Hammarskjöld that feels just right:
“For all that has been, Thanks. For all that will be, YES!”

The world is waiting, for the sunrise, for the sunrise. . .
The world is waiting, for the sunrise, for the sunrise. . .

Renee Roederer