Y’all-o-Ween

Dear God, Master Maker of sugar cane… is this what you had in mind? All-knowing God did you ever think we would wrap pure sugar in bright packages and feed handfuls to our children? 

“Trick or Treat” in a parade of disguises, joy, laughter and surprises! 

Community connecting and celebrating by sharing confections.

A space where all could come to be seen, fed and filled.

We are grateful and humbled that our place was used and useful, safe and serene, warm and welcoming. 

God, may your Kin-dom continue to reign on earth through the sharing of Snickers bars and Tootsie pops. Small gifts given in love that say, “you belong.” 

To the parents, we send our sincere condolences.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Ghandi Sits Still

     Rev. Paula Zabkar told a story in her Sunday service @ Spiritual Soul Center this week about Ghandi. After returning to India after 20 years absent, Ghandi traveled the country to see for himself the condition of the county.  He witnessed the deep needs of India’s people who were being oppressed under Britain’s rule. All Ghandi’s people wanted him to ACT, DO and CHANGE things NOW, but rather wise Ghandi retreated into the silence to seek, pray and discern. He did the exact opposite of what everyone else wanted.
     Ghandi cultivated a practice known as “satyagraha, a technique for redressing wrongs through inviting, rather than inflicting, suffering, for resisting adversaries without rancor, and fighting them without violence.” How different our entire world experience would be if this posture was the norm rather than the rarity. 
     Inspired by the story of Ghandi, I started reading his autobiography and am learning that from an early age, Ghandi activated, sometimes acquiesced, but ultimately accepted vows and choices he made about his life and person. Living in England as a poor student, he was very hungry and reevaluated a vow he had made to his mother about remaining a vegetarian – not only did he refuse to eat meat, but decided that eggs (a staple of much of the food he was eating) were unacceptable to consume. 
     How can I be more Ghandi-like this week? What vows am I challenged to make and then keep? What posture is a Higher Power calling me to take – even if it doesn’t seem fair or feel good? May I sit still like Ghandi when I am disturbed and seek the wisdom of silence. 

(https://www.britannica.com/summary/Mahatma-Gandhi-Timeline)

Print by by Br Robert Lentz OFM can be purchased here:
https://pixels.com/featured/mohandas-gandhi-rlmog-br-robert-lentz-ofm.html

Can lilies grow in sand?

The Bible says in Matthew 6:28 that lilies don’t worry, but could lilies grow in sand? I’m guessing probably not. And yet the beach is full of life. There are countless things living in the water! And above the water too! Flowers grow in the dunes, but not lilies.

On the beach, we also find life that was – in skeleton shells. I always wonder what animal could have possibly lived in such a tiny shell? After seeing so many shells in my lifetime, I haven’t seen very many of the creatures that inhabited them. But they lived regardless of my witness.

The sea’s vastness is a mystery too. Here in Wilmington, NC, I have the opportunity to walk to the end. Eventually, I’d come to the place where the ocean and Cape Fear river meet. My choices would be to get on a boat or turn around and walk back.

“What’s the point of walking down to the end? It would get you nowhere?”

And maybe that is the point?! To go nowhere is to go everywhere – into the limitless possibility of what’s next: healing, change, growth, provision, potential… promise? The joy is in the journey.

The ocean hitting the shore over and over reminds me that life is always changing. As each wave is different that gives me hope that things can always be new. I’m going to keep walking.

Candy Corn

O God, creator of all that is… I thank you for the cooler temperatures, orange and yellow hues of leaves and for bite-sized pieces of wonderful Halloween confections. Tiny morsels in every shape and flavor – gummy bears wrapped in small packages! Best of all… CANDY CORN! (yes, brown candy corn too!).

“I’m going to buy this for the kiddies,” I lie to myself.

“You bought candy corn…” Geoff whines.

A friend of mine mixed candy corn and peanuts – doubly delicious.

I shake some out… just a few pieces. What is it about the waxy, overly sweetness that makes it soooooo good? First, nibble off the white section? Or the yellow top? Pop it in your mouth! God, help me, save me from myself so that there will be treats left for the kids.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Downtrodden

I’ve been asked to give the message this upcoming Sunday at Spiritual Soul Center and as I listened to Rev. Paula share yesterday on grace, this writing I did several years ago popped into my mind. Paula spoke of grace in terms of comparing ourselves to others (not grace), but how often we interpret grace that way. The thought of Ms. Gladys’ face, the situation and the smell came rushing into my memory yesterday during church and I wondered how she saw God’s grace in her moment of need? What I do know is that I can choose to BE grace for another – an example, a living bridge to the love of God for all God’s beloved children.

Downtrodden. By Meg McBride. Featured in Hope Rising published as a Lenten Reflection in 2017.

I’m a social worker who works in the hospital and helps patients who are experiencing homelessness. One day, I was called to the  emergency room to talk to Ms. Gladys. The nursing staff didn’t know how to handle her. Ms. Gladys was an older, frail, black woman who was dressed in a bright pink sweat suit  She lay there, crying… She smelled terrible and I realized that the smell was feces – she was covered in her own excrement. Why had no one on the hospital staff had offered to clean her up? She showed me her pants and underpanties that were stained brown as I struggled to hold back a choking feeling in my throat. As she revealed her skin under her clothing, I saw that her entire body was covered with scars.  She told me she had been in a fire and was burned over 90% of her body. She showed me her chest from which her breasts had been completely burned off. She showed me scars from her neck to her feet. 

The fire was why her bowels didn’t work anymore. She had to wear a colostomy bag that needed to be emptied often, but she had spent the previous night sitting outside on a curb because she had nowhere to go — she was homeless. The bag had burst open all over her. In the morning, someone found her and called 911. Here she was… still alone and still covered in waste. She reached out her hand and offered it to me… that hand covered in crap. Something Bigger than me said, “Take it.” As she held my hand, Ms. Gladys asked me, “Why did God let me survive that fire? What didn’t God just taken me then?” I had no words. I stood beside her, feeling her hand in mine, and cried with her…

Sleepy Monday Afternoon

It’s only Monday afternoon and I’m sleepy. There’s so much on the “to do” list!

I’ve stared at the same spreadsheet for the past ten minutes and nothing on it has changed or made more sense. I still don’t know what I’m looking at.

Why didn’t I put a comfy couch in this office?

Is there any chocolate around here?

Should I make coffee?

I feel itchy.

I wonder what Geoff will make for dinner?!

What time did that guy say he was stopping by to make a delivery? Will I make it till them?

It’s only Monday afternoon and I’m sleepy. Yawn.

Zzzzzzzzzz…

Beach Walk

I walked the beach twice this week – thinking about Carol. Was she “out there”? Could she see me? Could she hear me thinking about her? I pondered on the deep ocean – the out-there-ness of it. I wondered about the mystery, the unknown, the uncharted and the deep.

I like to stay in the surf where I feel safe and capable because the ocean scares me, especially when I think about getting sucked out in a riptide. I’ll go a little deeper if I have a friend with me (like Kathryn, who is a strong and life-long swimmer).

Carol went to the beach every Tuesday with friends. Friends who helped her onto the sand and down to the water. Maybe Carol was a little unsure of the ocean too. Maybe she wondered what was “out there” as well.

I see you Carol in the bigness and endlessness of the sky. I treasure your depth – as deep as any sea – to go “there” time and again with your courage, perseverance, positivity and your unending care and concern for others.

The sky smiles and there is Carol.

Bright, open, free and at ease. Rest easy my friend.

Prayer: (the real) Beach Season Begins

Oh God, Creator of sand and sea, how marvelous, how majestic are your works.

Now that the beach is quiet again,

The sea is a reminder of ever changing, ever flowing, ever coming and going.

Here is perfection. 

Community of pelicans – flying easily across the clouds.

Symphony of silence – found in tones of waves arcing, crashing, landing softly.

Sea foam blowing weightless – daintily resting upon new territory.

Dog innocently chasing sandpipers – a chance to catch flight.

Gentle hearts, slight smiles – humans moving in meditation.

I am here standing – in the surf, sand slipping away under my feet.

I am here… pausing, remembering, breathing, alive.

This week we lost a friend…

This past week, our good friend and Hope Recovery lead team member Carol Bass died. Having lived with rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child, her life was full of physical health challenges, which she overcame daily by her faith in God and her outlook on life. During her 33 year career as a school guidance counselor, her positive attitude and perseverance influenced countless people. She was instrumental in helping us at Hope Recovery create and prepare the teachings we’ve been sharing on Thursday nights during the past year. We will deeply miss her smile, kindness and the incredible insight and experience she brought to our group as a person living with and daily recovering from a life-long health condition.

This video captures Carol’s energy, light and joy. Carol, I am grateful for every time I tied your shoes and for the technology that allows me to continue to hear your laugh.

Prayer: Sandy Feet

O God, Creator of the sea, river, beach and sand – incredible creations from your imagination. The Psalmist reminds us,

Your O’ God thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

And neither can I count the sand on my feet. The sand that gets in my shoes (no matter how many times I rinse my feet off in the water), between my toes and stuck up my ankles. The feeling of scratchy sand as I walk across the floor, on the bottom of the tub, under the sheets in bed and even in my mouth (how did sand get in my mouth!?!)
Gritty, grimy, generous portions of sand. The rub, rough reality that reveals to me the ebbs and flows of my life. The reminder that with great growth, often times comes great irritability. O’ God, I pray today that simple sand be a reminder of the good work you continue to do in me that sometimes is uncomfortable, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I pray today that wherever you find “sand” in your life that you can look beyond the irritability and see it as a reminder of how God is growing you. 
Love, Pastor Meg

The shores of the Ware River in Gloucester Courthouse, VA