58 Seconds of Waves

the Ware River, Gloucester Courthouse, VA

Last week I talked about the passing of time in reference to being on vacation with our family and getting to spend time with my two adult sons who I wish I saw more often (they live in PA and I live in NC). On the last morning together, after packing up the cars, we said our “good-byes” and I cried as we pulled out of the driveway. Following my son Will down the country road to the main highway where he turned right and we went left. In that moment, I could have put my head down into my hands and sobbed – grateful for the wonderful week we shared and also sad about the week’s ending and how long it would be until I saw them again.

I took a video of the Ware River’s waves to try and “hold” the moment and the memories of our time together. 58 seconds of waves – until the last 2 seconds when my husband Geoff comes into the audio and asks me a question, “Are you video taping waves?”

Hit “stop” – I was video taping waves until you talked into my video!!!

Life is full of interruptions. Life is full of short and long moments, precious and delightful moments, and even sad moments. My prayer for myself is that when I am in the wonderful moments, the moments that really matter like spending time with the people I love, gazing at God’s glorious creation from the kayak seat, or watching my son’s joy at casting a line for fish that I can really BE in that moment with gratitude, thanksgiving and appreciation sharing my self, my love and God’s love with all that is around me.

Andrew fishing (or at least trying to catch fish!)

Broken Clocks

I waited all year for this vacation. For me, the highlight of the year is when I get to spend an uninterrupted 7 days with my sons, who both live 8+ hours away from me. Each year, we choose a destination where we can be together in a large house that has enough room to accommodate meals and games and is stituated on a body of water so we can kayak. Over the years, we’ve stayed in Air B&B’s in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, West Virginia and Pennsylvania – some wonderful (like this year’s choice on the Ware River in Gloucester Courthouse, VA) and others kind of strange (like the house on Conneaut Lake, PA with the creepy room above the kitchen and personal photos of the owner strewn about). Wherever we stay though, when I’m with my kids I’m in my bliss, but the week always seems to go by so quickly.

What I appreciate about the house we are staying at this year, (besides the plush couches that feel like a warm flannel blanket) are the broken clocks. Clocks without hands and clocks stuck at one time. They are reminders that time is irrelevant. We’ve got no where to be, nothing to do and no list to check. We are here to be – just be together. To throw a few bean bags at the corn hole boards and decide mid-game to quit and walk away. To take fishing poles down to the pier and cast… catching only air until the sun sets. To sit and stare off out along the water and wonder what lives beneath, what once was here and how us being here in this time is a gift of rest and relationship.

Confession: there’s a part of me that will still count the days we are here, regretting when Saturday arrives and we have to part ways until we see each other next time. I always get teary-eyed at the good-byes. But for now, I’m going to remember the hand-less clock, put away my watch and sink into the warm water of the Ware River, relax into the long lazy days and feel the deep gratitude for the opportunity to be with my family uninterrupted for one week.

Meg

Prayer: Leaking Water-bottle

O God, Creator, Mastermind and Sustainer, you empower us with the gift of technology and advancements – I bemoan my flip-top water bottle for it has failed me. Fountain water at Wilmington airport is warm and stale. Flying north, wetness slowly leaking onto paper, cloth and cords. Deplaning, damp pack drips down my back, waiting forever for our rental, getting backwards headed to destination.
Discomforted, whining and wet,
Then I notice… the homeless humans – stationed on Baltimore’s corners.
Quiet… nodding… waiting…
That familiar dampness in my eyes, pang of heart, vastness in gut. Here too.
Reminding, Re-righting, Revealing.
Sitting on concrete will anyone give a cup of cold water?
God, thank you for not letting me get too far into myself, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I pray today that when you are disturbed by the things that challenge your comfort, God will bring your attention back to those who have not and are in need.
Love, Pastor Meg

Charging Station

This past weekend Geoff and I flew to Baltimore, MD to catch live performance of his favorite band, Lord Huron. Baltimore was the closest the group was coming to Wilmington, so we thought we’re’d act like groupies and make it a road trip. We intended to drive the 8 hours, but hen decided to fly so we could get there faster and easier. The show was great and we visited a few local attractions. It was a fun weekend.

Coming home, I was already tense when we were unable to find the car rental drop-off location, took a bumpy bus ride to the departure gates and then needed to see an airline agent to check in. Standing barefoot in the TSA line, waiting to go through the scan machine that makes me feel so exposed, I said the Geoff, “I think I prefer driving.” Sure, it takes longer and one runs the risk of being delayed due to traffic, but there’s something empowering about having choices and agency over one’s trip. There’s an adventure in driving and seeing what is around you from the ground. And your charging station is always ready and with you.

In the car, you can pack all your comforts (cooler, snacks and extra clothes) and you can stop when you need to. You can hit the first Wawa you see (only the best convenience store ever!) to grab a celebratory welcome-to-the-north soft pretzel and coffee with real heavy cream! You can take in the scenery and take it easy. On car trips, looking out the window, I often imagine what it might be like to live in the city or town we are passing through? Or what is life like in the mountains instead of at the beach? As we pass houses, I imagine who lives there and what their life might be like? Road trips are often an adventure for my imagination.

Sure, flying is faster, but I prefer the adventure of driving to my destinations. I think I get recharged on the longer journey. Sometimes the longer way is the better way. 

I’ll say good-bye for now as the plane is ready to taxi and I need to save what battery power I have left for Netflix! 
See you on the ground in ILM!

Pastor Meg

Prayer: Garden Worm

Monday, July 8th, 2022

O God, Creator and Revealer of wonders and mysteries, your Divine Imagination is behind the fat, neon green worm with black stripes that devoured the fennel. I tried to pick her off, but its body squished between my fingers as she held tightly. I shrieked and pulled away!
“Ok, how am I going to deal with this pest?”
Research! <Google it.>
Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar. (Fennel bulb still harvestable).
A Revelation!
An assumed pest is actually a creature in transformation to something precious, beautiful and important – a butterfly!
Lesson: Don’t react – respond. Pause and investigate. Be opened. Oh God, you continue to teach me (silly me!). May I listen, learn and love more deeply as every day you are transforming me, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I pray today that whatever “pest” you encounter, you PAUSE and be opened to responding, rather than trying to pick it off and fling it away! It might be something beautiful!!!
Love, Pastor Meg

Blog: The Battery Ran Out

Cooler temperatures have increased my desire to get outside and do yard work – something I really enjoy and find relaxing. I was mowing our “grass” (if that’s what you can call what is growing – and NOT growing in our yard!) on Saturday, when the mower battery ran out. Not having the backup battery charged, I walked away thinking, “Well, I’ve got about 30 minutes to wait until I can continue my work.”

It’s Monday and guess what???… I just took this picture of the mower sitting exactly where I left it on Saturday. Not only did I “charge my battery” on Saturday by spending the rest of the day relaxing, I “charged my battery” on Sunday as well.

Rest and relaxation are important. We measure our success and progress on all the stuff we get done. Well, I have actually been trying to build minutes and hours of rest and/or relaxation into my work days. I work a little and come home and walk the dog or jump in the pool for 15 minutes. Somedays, I might even lay on the sofa and close my eyes for an hour. I am finding that a mix of rest/relaxation is actually helping my productivity and creativity when I do sit down to work. What if I started to measure my productivity on my resting?

It’s OK to leave the project sit in the middle of the yard and go rest. It’s still there… it’s not keeping track of time and and it’s not waiting for you. The pressure is off. It will get done. Try to give yourself the gift of rest and relaxation this week. Pause, Breath and say “Ahhhh….!” Go take a nap or a bath or a an entire day off!

Blog: How I Dream

When I get a thought I write it down on a large whiteboard hanging next to my desk in my home office. I guess it’s my vision board, but as a “words person,” for me its always about the text. This has been the place to record the “inklings” that seem to literally pop into my head (strangely often when I am in the shower! Which leads me to digress… I once had a sponsee who would call me to help her problem solve an issue. She’d lay it all out and say, “Now go take a shower and call me back with your answer!”).

On this board I have written, “A home where all grow, serve, transform together,” in reference to the Hope Recovery building on Winston Ave. On Sunday, August 7th, we began hosting a congregation called Spiritual Soul Center in our space. As I sat in the congregation, listening to Rev. Paula Zabkar expound on her vision and journey of getting to our space, I cried with joy. THIS IS IT! What I hoped, dreamed and prayed for. For each paint brush stroke, toilet cleaned and piece of art meticulously chosen… we have over the past months recreated the church into a space of welcome, beauty and a place that feels like home. This is exactly what I intended and intend our space to be – a sanctuary for anyone seeking deeper healing in the light and love of God’s Grace. A place where you can say, “I belong here,” and sink in.

I”ll continue to dream my dreams, record the “pops” of thought that strangely fly into my brain as I’m shaving my legs in the shower (TMI!?) and you’ll find me dancing in the sanctuary with the music blasting when I’m in the building alone (sorry neighbors!). May God continue to bless, work in and redeem this little church on Winston Ave. so it will be used and useful, a beacon of light in the darkness and a place where people find love, safety and belonging. My cup runs over.

Amen. Gracious and loving God, I give you A MILLION THANKS!!!

Blog: Beloved

How many times do we advise ourselves to love ourselves more? In my 20+ years in recovery, how I’ve loved myself has grown and changed. When I got sober, loving myself meant committing to attending my 5:30pm home group so I could connect with the recovery program and the fellowship. At the time, my children didn’t so much agree with me. With a 5:30pm meeting, that meant they stayed at baby-sitting longer and dinner was later.

Over the years, I loved myself more by setting boundaries, making better choices, finding my voice and learning to say “no.” It is an ongoing process that consistently takes me to new depths. Recently, I attended a retreat for women who had all experienced trauma. We talked a lot about God’s healing love, but some of the women in the group, also still felt deep guilt and shame about what they had been through.

Shame is a place where God’s love and self-love can’t flourish. Shame keeps us trapped in dark pits, under the weight of false beliefs, blame and victimization. Shame skews the way we see and feel about ourselves. What if there was another inroad to cultivating self love?

BELOVED – def. 1. To hold one dear. 2. We humans are dear to God. 3. “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (God to Jesus in Matthew 3:17).

Something being dear to me means it is precious, requires gentle treatment, I give my full attention and brings me such joy – to not have what is beloved in my life would be an absolute black hole and to treat anything beloved harshly or cruel would break my heart.

I can easily name those I hold dear: my Nana (RIP), my niece/nephew and my best-friend’s children Alma and Ewan. My friend Gene, the lady at the end of the street and my dog, Stewie. My fellowship, my program, the NA’s who meet at my church and my Thursday night “squad.” The reality is that it often feels easier to give out to others than it does to give to myself.

Thinking of myself as “held dear” helps me to hold a sense of preciousness for myself, which affects my choices toward myself. Can we begin to cultivate within ourselves and for ourselves a posture of belovedness? Can you see yourself as precious, be gentle towards yourself, give yourself full attention and find what brings you joy? One way I’m doing this is to intentionally slow life down, take a few moments to breathe and check in with my body. What small step or change could you make today that would help you hold yourself as your own beloved?

I am still practicing everyday at loving myself, but I’m getting better at it.

Blog: A model to live by

Last week, I shared that I’ve felt called to incorporate the principals of the Harm Reduction philosophy into my pastoral calling and care for the people at Hope Recovery. In my post last week, I defined a model that I’m working on to further explain the process of creating an atmosphere of love, safety and belonging. Here’s a visual representation of that model:

Over the next weeks, I’ll continue to unpack this model. Many thanks for the folks who attend our Thursday night in-person gathering who lovingly and supportively continue to help me to develop this idea by share their ideas, give feedback and continue to ask questions for clarification.

For More Information on Faith and Harm Reduction see: SPIRIT OF HARM REDUCTION: A TOOLKIT FOR COMMUNITIES OF FAITH FACING OVERDOSE, published by Faith In Harm Reduction. (Read that here: https://harmreduction.org/issues/harm-reduction-basics/spirit-of-harm-reduction-a-toolkit-for-communities-of-faith-facing-overdose/)

Blog: Unpacking a Harm Reduction Theology

For some time, I’ve felt called to incorporate the principals of Harm Reduction in my pastoral calling at Hope Recovery as a way to inform and further define the work of creating an atmosphere of love, safety and belonging.

I’ve been studying the document SPIRIT OF HARM REDUCTION: A TOOLKIT FOR COMMUNITIES OF FAITH FACING OVERDOSE, published by Faith In Harm Reduction. (Read that here: https://harmreduction.org/issues/harm-reduction-basics/spirit-of-harm-reduction-a-toolkit-for-communities-of-faith-facing-overdose/)

This past week during our Thursday night gathering, I shared my ideas about a harm reduction theology that can be activated both towards our own selves, as well as lived out in service to others. Here are the building blocks of that theology (simply meaning: the study of the nature of God. In this case, cast through a lens of harm reduction.)

Our Commitment: We will live our lives from a place of openness for greater self/others acceptance. God, help me to give to myself and others the following:

To Host…

Beloved Community – being dearly loved and holding others dear

Sanctuary – a place of refuge, a place of safety

Gospel – truth as the guiding principle that is accessible to all people

(easily reached, communicated, adapted for understanding) 

To Offer…

Dignity – being worthy, honored, esteemed

Compassion – sympathetic of distress of others with a desire to work to serve them to alleviate it 

Love – devotion, loyalty, concern for the good of another. 

(God’s concern for God’s people, Love for the neighborhood of all humankind.)

To Work Toward…

Transformation – causing a marked change in someone or something

Reconciliation – restoration of friendly relationships

Reciprocity – exchanging of things for mutual benefit 

Liberation – being set free from imprisonment, slavery or oppression

We are all God’s children, cooperating together, nurturing one another and helping each other remember that God always provides a way.

This is only a beginning and I will begin unpacking each one of these elements in the following weeks.

– Meg