Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where I've Been

I am still feeling a little jet lagged and recovering from a cold, so I am not really up for actual words yet, but in the meantime, I thought I'd post some pictures from the first School of the Spirit residency. As you can see, it is in a lovely place.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Something New

My bags are packed and in the morning I am headed to North Carolina for the first School of the Spirit residency. For the past few weeks, I have gone from excited to panicked and back again in less time than I would have thought possible. Even though I have the schedule of what we will be doing for the next few days, I really have no idea what will happen.

I keep looking at the list of people that I will probably know quite well and wondering what they are like. What will we learn about ourselves and each other? What will we leave behind and what will we take away? What will my life look like in two years at the end of this program?

It is thrilling and scary and I am glad everything is in motion. Although I have had doubts, I know that I felt led to apply for this program and many friends have encouraged my leading. I am grateful to have the support of my faith communities. Now all I have to do is go.

I also wanted to post an update to last week's post. I am very happy to say that Jana has been improving every day. She has been breathing on her own and talking to family and friends and she moved out of the ICU a few days ago. Best of all, a neurosurgeon who looked at Jana's MRI scan said that he thinks within six months any brain injuries will no longer be apparent.

There is so much to be grateful for and so much ahead. Please continue to hold Jana and her family in the Light. And please hold me in the Light as I travel, learn, and grow. Thank you.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Some Friends have already written about the tragedy in our meeting this week.* Jana, a beloved member of University Friends Meeting, was hit by a car walking home from the bus on Thursday evening. She has been in the ICU in a medically induced coma since then and it is unclear whether she will make it and what her recovery will look like if she does.

When I first started coming to University Friends, Jana and her family went out of their way to make me feel welcome. She has been on my support committee since we first started meeting, when I could only bear to have two people listening to me. Whenever I have had a prayer request, Jana has been the person I have gone to, and she always prays.

I know I am not alone in relying on her. Over the decades she and her family have been a part of the meeting, she has touched countless lives.

The image that keeps coming into my head is this picture of her taken by Western Friend at North Pacific Yearly Meeting annual session. In our skit about worship, Jana was the Friend loudly sneaking in late, hoping no one would notice.

Meeting was so hard yesterday. We were all praying for Jana. Several Friends spoke about her and led us in prayer. There were things I wanted to say about Jana—how kind and funny she is, how much we all want her to get better—but I had no leading to speak.

Instead, when I asked God whether there was anything I should say, God responded with a line from a song: "All you have to do is cry." So I did. As we all prayed, tears streamed down my face. I cried for Jana, for her family, and for all of our pain and loss. The prayer that keeps coming to me is this:
God, we know you love Jana, but we love her too. Please give her back to us.
Please hold Jana, her family, and our community in the Light.

*This post has more information about the accident and Jana's current condition.

UPDATE: I have heard from a friend that Jana is awake and responsive, though still in the ICU. Please keep her in your prayers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Careful What You Pray For

One of the required readings for the first School of the Spirit residency is Beginning to Pray, by Anthony Bloom. At first, I didn't like the book at all. Bloom seemed to be focusing a lot on how we need to repent and recognize that we are sinners before we can pray. That type of religious writing doesn't help me very much. I am already very hard on myself and I don't think that focusing on how much I fall short brings me closer to God. This story about St. Philip Neri made me smile, though.
He was an irascible man who quarrelled easily and had violent outbursts of anger and of course endured violent outbursts from his brothers. One day he felt that it could not go on . . . he ran into the chapel, fell down before a statue of Christ and begged Him to free him of his anger. He then walked out full of hope. The first person he met was one of the brothers who had never aroused the slightest anger in him, but for the first time in his life this brother was offensive and unpleasant to him. So Philip burst out with anger and went on, full of rage, to meet another of his brothers who had always been a source of consolation and happiness to him. Yet even this man answered him gruffly. So Philip ran back to the chapel, cast himself before the statue of Christ and said 'O Lord, have I not asked you to free me from this anger?' And the Lord answered 'Yes, Philip, and for this reason I am multiplying the occasions for you to learn.' (35-36)
Recently, I started working on a new fruit of the spirit: gentleness, particularly gentleness toward myself. When I talked about this with Sarah P, she reminded me that when I feel led to pray for a new fruit of the spirit, that is usually followed by a lot of testing of the particular thing I am praying for. That is definitely what happened last year when I started praying for joy.

I am guessing that there will be some times coming up where I will make mistakes and feel stupid, probably more than usual. But I am going to try to give myself a break more often and to remember that even if I don’t do something perfectly, it’s not necessarily failure. I doubt I will ever be able to hold myself as gently as God holds me, but I think it's worth trying.