Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kasey is 10 years old and just completed 4th grade at Whittier Elementary in Seattle. Kasey is a Jr. Deacon and a member of the Seeds [Sprouts] of Knowledge Class at Queen Anne Christian Church.

On Saturday night, June 12, her dad still needed to prepare his elder’s meditation for Sunday morning. She asked her dad, “What is an elder’s meditation?” After some discussion, Kasey went off on her own.

Her mom later found Kasey with a yellow pad and pencil and asked her what she was doing. Kasey told her she was writing her dad’s elder’s meditation for him. This is what she wrote:

What does it mean to be kind?
Helping someone on the asphalt when they skinned their knee?
Well, lots of things are kind.
Please and thank you.
Can I help?
What’s wrong?
Many things you do everyday can help. Little changes help people around you.
My oldest daughter, Kasey, likes to help worms not getting killed in the rain on the sidewalk by picking them up and putting them in the nearby dirt. That is very kind.
If all the worms die in the world the plants would die because of no air holes in the soil.
Some people out in the world are mean and hurt people both inside and out.
Deep down inside them is a yearning for love and happiness. They have been scared and now want other people to feel their pain. If someone just helps and loves, his or her heart will be healed.
Help others in need.
Love others.
Someone could and can really change how they see the world.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I cannot say it any better.
The work of God through this church touches lives in a myriad of meaningful ways.
Let us love kindness and walk with humility as God’s partners in this most blessed life.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The mystery of God touches us — or does not —in the smallest details: giving a strawberry, with love; receiving a touch, with love; sharing the snapdragon red of an autumn sunset, with love.
—Marion Woodman, Coming Home to Myself

Recently a friend sent me a beautiful poem, a reflection on wild strawberries in a cemeterty and it got me thinking about those luscious red fruits.

I am not talking about the ones we can now get year round in the plastic containers. I am talking about those beautiful Northwest berries—so fragile that you need to hold the green cardboard box with tenderness as you carry it to the car, so sweet that you hardly need any sugar but you put a little on them anyway so they make some juice.

I grew up in a meat and potatoes family that reflected my father’s North Dakota farming roots. In that family supper was not complete without bread and butter. It was the same in our family. The table was not set unless we had bread and margarine resting on their little plates.

My mother’s side of the family, going back three generations, is from Seattle. They usually ate in a meat and potatoes fashion as well except for once a year.

Sometime, usually around the end of June or first of July, whenever the strawberries were really ripe, mom would make biscuits the size of a dinner plate. Hot from the oven she split them open and put a huge pat of butter on the bottom half. Next she piled on sliced strawberries sweetened with just a little sugar. Then she plopped on freshly whipped cream flavored with just a little powered sugar and vanilla. Finally, the top of the biscuit was placed like a crown on top of all that and more strawberries and whipped cream were added to that. Then we ate dinner: that was dinner.

Once a year my sister and I stared incredulously at the biscuit, the pile of strawberries and the dripping whipped cream concoction simply unbelieving in our good luck to be born into this particular family.

Sometimes we had bacon on the side, a concession, I think, to my father who could not imagine a meal without protein.

So I’ve been thinking about this meal unlike any other we ate all year. I’ve been thinking about dry times in our lives when it seems like the same meat and potatoes meal will be our sustenance forever.

Agatha Christie has written: I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable. . .but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.

I think she might be talking about grace. . .the iris so deep blue-purple you want to dive into the yellow center and drown in its light; the soft chick-a-dee-dee-dee that falls on your ear like a forest Muzak; the buoyancy of prayers that lift us up in times of sorrow and grief; of unexpected moments of reconciliation in relationships that take our breath away.

This life we have been given—so precious, so tender—it is as if God offers us strawberry shortcake each moment of every day and our only task is to remember to eat with gratitude.

Laurie Rudel

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Being extravagantly generous is an enchanting way to become holy and Godlike, for God is awesomely extravagant — as is revealed by even a casual glance at creation.

Edward Hays
The Great Escape Manual

Last month I received the last inheritance check from my mom's estate. Again I decided to tithe (plus a little bit more) from that amount. Yesterday I wrote out the checks to two organizations I want to support.

The first time I adopted this spiritual practice I had a hard time dropping the checks in the mail so they traveled around with me in my car, in my purse, making the journey between home and church, between Queen Anne Hill and Lake Forest Park.

This time it seems ever so much easier. I'm realizing that giving takes practice. We practice giving by giving something away, by being generous givers.

Maybe we start small. And maybe we notice all the different ways that generosity comes our way. We give thanks. We share with others. We receive. We begin again.

Life is meant to be lived in this cycle of grace.

blessings + peace, Laurie

Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Lenten Journey

Lent began Ash Wednesday, February 17, ushering in a season of reflection that takes us through Holy Week to Easter.

During this time we are invited to move in two directions—in and out—kind of like breathing.

On the one hand we might choose to do things a little differently. Traditional Lenten activities often involve such practices as dedicating time for prayer each day, or we might fast and then offer the money from our meals to our food bank. We could begin a practice of taking a walk each day or visiting someone who is lonely.

All these kind of practices could be described as "breathing out," showing up in the world in a slightly different way.

On the other hand we might choose a "breathing in" kind of practice. We might take time each night before sleep to notice where our lives seemed strained that day or out of balance. We might also notice what was particularly life-giving.

We could begin a simple journal where we make a list of just those two things: what was life-giving, what was life-draining.

We might want to search our heart for places of tension where we need to offer the gift of grace and forgiveness, not only to others, but also to ourselves.

We might also reflect on the nature of our thoughts: how often do we respond reflexively to someone. Are we really listening to what the other is saying or do we already know what we will say next?

The capacity to focus our attention deeply on ourselves might seem, at first glance, a little self-serving. But these are the very kinds of practices that begin to open us up to the leading of God, to free our hearts and minds for the mission of God’s work in the world.

Our part, again and again, is simply to reduce the interference within us, to be clear channels of God’s grace.

blessings + peace, Laurie