Monday, July 6, 2015

A Time

For several years there always seemed to be something to say, something to write. 

Almost. Every. Day.

It was an unexpected gift, the ability to get out of the way and just let the words tumble out onto the page. And then six months ago everything went silent. After writing Glenn’s obituary, there wasn't really anything to say at all. It wasn't from lack of trying, but the inspiration just seemed to be gone. Instead there came the unexpected gift of wide and open space to grieve, to mourn, to weep, to be. Thanks be to God.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

I’d add a few to this list:

a time to be lost, and a time to be found;
a time to hang on, and a time to let go;
a time to fight, and a time to surrender;
a time to give away; and a time to receive
a time to be empty; and a time to be full…

And now it seems that it is time to begin to write once again. 

More than anything, I am deeply grateful for all who have surrounded me during these months. I have seen the face of God in your faces! Your courage has become my courage. Your faith has become my faith. Your hope has become my hope. 

May you know God’s richest blessings…you are loved…

grace and peace...cindy

Friday, January 2, 2015

Thanks and Yes

“For all that has been, Thank you.
For all that is to come, Yes!” 
― Dag Hammarskjöld

There’s a lot of press these days about New Year’s Resolutions. It’s that time of year, right? A time when we let up on the gas pedal a bit and cut ourselves some slack. A time of year when we give ourselves permission for a twelve month “do-over”. Facebook, Twitter, television and print ads…nearly everywhere we turn, we are urged to try again in 2015. 

By far the hardest part of resolutions, is choosing ones that are realistic (am I really going to give up sugar?) and will have a long term impact (can I live a healthier lifestyle?). Then comes the big test…sharing those resolutions publicly and without a word, asking for accountability. 

For certain I would like to pray more, give more, eat less, be more active, and sleep better. I think we all would like to do those things. But perhaps there is another way to start the new year other than making resolutions that don’t stick. Perhaps it is in adopting a wider change of attitude that we begin to see change happening in ourselves and in turn impacting our world.

How can making resolutions be “both/and” versus choosing something good over something not so good? How can we make resolutions that are gentle to our soul and spirit and yet are also challenging? How can we make resolutions that stick? 

This quote by Dag Hammarskjöld seems to resonate. How can I be thankful for what has taken place in the past (especially in 2014), and at the same time eagerly look forward to the future? Admittedly it has been difficult not to jump on the “Let’s Kick 2014 To the Curb” bandwagon. Something inside just can’t let go of recognizing that there are many gifts embedded in the journey of Glenn’s illness and subsequently his death. Perhaps gratefulness for the past and welcoming the future is key. 

So here’s to being thankful for 2014 and living in hope and wonder for 2015.

Thank you to all who continue to pray and those who continue to help and care for me. I am so grateful for your presence in my life…let us remember to pray for others who are struggling.

…grace and peace…c.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

God In the Shadows

This morning’s prayer included the litany called the “O Antiphons”. This litany of seven short prayers (each beginning with the word “O”) is prayed from December 17th to December 23rd, and one prayer is said each day. This was this morning’s O Antiphon:

O Radiant Dawn, 
splendor of eternal light,
Sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who live 
darkness and in the shadow of death.

There are many living in darkness and in the shadow of death. Glenn’s death four weeks ago cast a pallor over my family and friends and I do often feel as though I live in its shadow. But this afternoon I read something on Facebook (of all places!) that has helped me to begin to find my way out from under that shadow.

Fr. James Martin is a Jesuit priest, author, and served as a chaplain for Steven Colbert, the staff and production crew of the “Colbert Report”. He recently had this to say:

“Frequently I meet with people struggling with devastating news. In those times even the most devout can begin to doubt God’s presence. But often what helps them to regain trust is a simple question: "Has God been with you in difficult times in the past?" 

His simple question has the effect of causing us to stop and wonder. The truth of the matter is that  for me this question is answered with a resounding, “Yes!” God always has been, always is, and always will be with us in times of difficulty. As Fr. Jim puts it, “Memories of God’s activity in the past enable us to embrace the future.”

Just as each twenty-four hour period turns from day to night to day, our lives turn from light to dark to light. Whether we are in the shadow of death or simply enduring a difficult time in our lives, we can trust that God is with us because we remember the Divine presence from our experiences past. 

This is how we move out from being in the shadow of death. This is how we move through a difficult circumstance. This is how we begin to trust, live and love again. 

Thank you to all who continue to pray and care for me. I am so grateful. Let remember to pray for others who are also struggling.

…grace and peace…c.

Monday, December 15, 2014


1 Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands;
2 serve the LORD with gladness 
and come before his presence with a song.

3 Know this: the LORD alone is God;
we belong to the LORD, who made us;
we are God’s people and the sheep of  God’s pasture.

4 Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving; 
go into the holy courts with praise;
give thanks and call upon the name of the LORD.

5 For good is the LORD,
whose mercy is everlasting;
and whose mercifulness endures from age to age.
(Psalm 100)

It’s time. Time to begin to discover how to live life again. Memorials have been attended, said, and done. Travel has been made out to the homestead. Family has returned back home. There is a longing for a routine, for a familiar pattern of prayer, work, recreation, and rest. There is a readiness to return to my work of pastoring and caring for a congregation, of doing my part as we head into the throes of one of our busiest seasons. 

By far the first question I am asked after the BIG question of, “How are you doing?”, is the question of “How are you doing this?” Serving in a large congregation, I have entered back into worship on Sundays and today marks my entry back into a full time schedule. To some, it seems incredulous that I have returned just three weeks after Glenn’s death. 

Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be a really good answer to this question of how. All I can say is that it is the Christ in me. My boss has been gracious and his pastoral care, extraordinary. The congregation has been so kind. My coworkers have stepped in and taken on the critical tasks of my job. No one has said, “You must…” 

Psalm 100 provides us with some guidance on what to do…

Verses 1, 2, and 4, contain the words: BE. SERVE. COME. ENTER. GO. GIVE. These offer a way to re-enter into life. 

But sandwiched in between these verses about what to do, there seems to be the answer found in verse 3 that points to how. 

Know this: the LORD alone is God;
we belong to the LORD, who made us;
we are God’s people and the sheep of God’s pasture.

It is this “knowing” that answers the question of how. Knowing that the LORD alone is God. Knowing that we belong to the LORD. Knowing that we are made to be a people set apart and who live in the places set before us.

I’ve been in fellowship with others who have known this for all of my life. All of this time, this “knowing” has become ingrained in who I am. It is the “Christ in me” recognizing the “Christ in you”. 

And now I face one of the hardest things I have ever done…living this truth in the midst of great sorrow and grief, in the midst of feeling as though my world has just come apart, as though everything has been unraveled at the seams. And it occurs to me that everything up until now has been in preparation for the place I am in today. 

Knowing that it is time to begin to live again, time to return to work, time to consider next steps, is an individual process that is different for each of us. In my case, Glenn was sick for a very long time and ever since his first diagnosis of cancer in 2010, I have been grieving losses. For some, the shock of his death started the grieving process, and so I can understand why they ask me how I can step back into life at this time. 

This is not to say that it is always easy. There are moments of panic and fear, moments of tears and sorrow, moments of loss and suffering. My brother Ken calls grief a “rogue wave”, because it sneaks up on us and knocks us down, mostly when we least expect it. 

Knocked down as we are, we come up for air, sputtering, the truth of verse 4 remains. 

Know this…The LORD alone is God and we belong to the LORD. This is how.

...grace and peace...cindy

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Open Places

In the midst of these days, there is a deepening recognition that life now contains a great deal of open space and a whole lot of quiet. Life is different. The knee jerk reaction is to fill that space with the first thing that comes along…with work, activities, books, music, social engagements…with anything and everything. 

But somehow I hear the still, small voice suggesting a better way..suggesting that there is a wonderful lesson to be learned in allowing the open place to be as it will..that silence can indeed be a wonderful teacher. 

Our lives are busy. Mostly we can easily recount the things that we have gotten done, are doing, or need to get done. Our to do list seems to be never ending. We wonder where the day goes and time really does seem to fly. 

It takes courage to face open space and not hurry to fill it. It takes determination to be ok with silence and not seek to push it aside. 

This morning’s prayers were from Psalm 18. This verse caused me to stop and linger…

He brought me out into an open place; he saved me, because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:19)

I never, ever thought of the open space or the silence as a gift. I have not said thank you for leading me to such a wide and open place. I never for one minute considered that the open place is the place where I am saved over and over again. I never welcomed this open place in my life, the place that was once occupied by my beloved. I almost missed His delight in me, because I was intent on refusing this gift. Never that is, until this morning...

Almost missed it… May God grant us the wisdom and courage to embrace the open places in our lives.

Thank you to all who weep, mourn, laugh, and celebrate with me. I am grateful for your presence in my life. Let us remember to pray for others who are suffering. 

…grace and peace...cindy

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
― Teresa of Ávila

This morning we have blue sky and sun, a welcome change from the grey winter skies. All week there has been a nudge to keep writing and with that has come the understanding that Glenn’s death should not be the final page in the story. That would seem to be a terribly final and tragic ending to our blog. And I will keep writing, but the time has come to move it out of Care Pages and over to here.

These words from St. Teresa are comforting. In the moments of sorrow and loss…in the midst of a flood of tears…in a grief that breaks over me like an unexpected wave…

Her words come to life as I learn just “be” in those moments….not pushing them away, demanding that they leave or digging deep to hurry through them. In just “be-ing”,  they lose their power over me. Energy is in short supply at the moment but the one thing I can do is to just “be”. In fact just “be-ing” is a great relief. 

Acknowledging sorrow, fear, grief, despair, and for a bit allowing them to be here, has brought a sense of peace and a hope that life won’t always be this way. Surrendering to the present moment and not running ahead to future or brooding over the past has brought a deep sense of calm. 

This is a lesson that I learn over and over again. I’m not always good at “be-ing”. Often I catch myself fretting and have to remember to be in the moment, acknowledge the emotions that are present and gently allow myself to return to “be-ing”.  

In my kitchen there is a plaque that reads “It Is What It Is”. This saying was the way Glenn and I often brought ourselves back to being in the moment. Reminding each other that “It is what it is” helped us to live without camping out in regret, worry, fear, anxiety, and discouragement. That’s not to say that they didn’t exist because they were and are very much our companions but they are not our masters and that is a huge difference. 

My prayer is that we will all hold onto each other as we remember and celebrate Glenn. That we will turn to one another and gently remind one another to “be” in the moment. That we will breathe deeply and know that we are held in the arms of God, deeply loved, and that the grace of Jesus Christ is “re-membered” into our hearts as we grieve, laugh, and live into these days.

Bless you for being on this journey…

Let us also remember to pray for others who are suffering…

..grace and peace…cindy 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Easily Turned

Matthew 6:30-33 If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

The weather here has been nothing short of spectacular. For the past week, brilliant sunshine, low humidity, cool mornings, and warm afternoons have been gratefully welcomed. The mood of the people seems to be more positive and upbeat. Everyone seems to be seeking a reason to be outside, enjoying it. These are the days that we ought to remember when the February cold and snow is upon us.

So just as these beautiful summer days turn our hearts upwards, the mere mention of winter and what it holds for us, brings gloom and a downward cast. It is as if something or someone just flips a switch inside of us.

We are so easily turned!

In her book Taking the Leap (2009), author Pema Chodron, speaks of our tendency to escape from our uncomfortable feelings. She says that awareness of our feelings (good and bad) is a sign that we are "fully awake".

"They're fully conscious of whatever is happening. Their minds don't go off anywhere. They just stay right there with chaos, with silence, with a carnival, in an emergency room, on a mountainside: they're completely receptive and open to what is happening." (p 14)

Admittedly, the very last thing I want to do in these days is remain with the chaos. It is not easy to be receptive and open to an unwelcome diagnosis, to chronic pain and suffering, to a problem without a solution, or to the inevitable change looming on the horizon. In an instant, life events can lead to shock, worry, fear, doubt, and discouragement.

We are so easily turned!

Our opportunity is to decide whether or not we will remain "turned". Will the promises found in Matthew 6 become an anchor for us to hang on to in bad times, or will we permit the circumstances of our lives to dictate our faith? Will we choose to be "awake" during times of chaos and stay with our feelings instead of being in denial about them?

In his first chapter, James puts it like this - Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Being aware of our feelings and acknowledging and staying with them, standing firm on God's promises in the midst of chaos, not being tossed about by bad news, all seem to be hallmarks of this "mature and well-developed life", that James writes about.

My Beloved and I have had a lot of bad news over the past few weeks. Truthfully this news has spun us around, shocked us, surprised us, and disappointed us. A unfavorable diagnosis, layered on with a nasty virus and unexpected dental work simply laid us out! And so, we find ourselves making choices about how to live with these circumstances. Finding the right medical team has been an extremely positive experience deeply impacting the quality of G's medical care. Seeking the wisdom of others who are skilled in caring for our spirits and souls has provided new perspectives on living with an incurable disease. Being gentle with ourselves and extending ourselves grace has brought rest and renewal.

Our circumstances remain largely unchanged. But a willingness to remain in the chaos has been pivotal in helping us move towards a life steeped in "God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions".

In the midst of it all, our gratitude for your prayers and presence in our lives continues to overflow. Thank you to all near and far who continue to care for us. May we also remember to pray for others in need...grace and peace...