08 December, 2017

Out of My Comfort Zone

I boarded the plane in Tampa exhausted from 3 days with youth and
youth leaders. It was a great leadership conference, and I was feeling incredibly hopeful for the church and the world, but remember it was with youth--you know those little creatures who stay up well past my bedtime and need to be chaperoned even though I still get up at 5:00 am? So I was completely exhausted and even, and this is hard to believe from this off the chart extrovert, needing some alone time.

I was heading home late on a Saturday night with Advent 1 the following day. I was worried about all four of my own children for various reasons and various degrees of severity, and while over the weekend I had experienced great joy and comfort from others who didn't even know they were comforting me, right then I just needed to be left alone.

The lights in the cabin dimmed and the youth with whom I was traveling inserted their earbuds and began watching movies--I settled in and began to read. The flight attendants began to deliver drinks and snacks...

We were sitting in the first half of the plane (not first class--seriously, you thought that?) but the first half of coach. Every few minutes I looked up from my book and watched the cart move towards our row. One flight attendant caught my eye. She looked just like a friend of mine who I know a) isn't a flight attendant and b) doesn't have a sister, but I kept stealing glances at her because it was so eery. I tried to be subtle--I didn't want her to think I was creepy.

As I watched her, I noticed she kept pressing her fingers to her head and a few times she gripped the cart with both hands and seemed to swerve as though she was dizzy or was afraid she would pass out. I thought to myself, "she must have a migraine." and if I'm truthful I desperately hoped it was that and not something contagious...being real here--I was worried about her, but I was also worried, read very worried, about getting sick myself.

Then I began the debate that often goes through my mind when wondering whether to speak up--should I ask her what's wrong? "No," I told myself, "It's none of my business and might embarrass her." I couldn't concentrate on my book and kept stealing looks at her hoping she wouldn't notice. And my stomach kept flipping like a puppy begging for attention--say something, say something, it seemed to say with each flip.

The cart stopped at our aisle and she asked me what I'd like. All I wanted was a pack of cookies (is there anything better than airplane cookies?). As she reached around the cart to hand them to me our hands touched. I reached out with my other one, placed it on top of hers and asked, "Are you okay?" She pulled her hand back and said, "Yes I'm fine." Ugh--had I offended her? I should have taken an antacid and ignored my stomach. Then her face softened and I said, "I just noticed you might have a headache." "Yes," she replied, "But you weren't supposed to see that. I have a job to do." And the cart moved on.

Twenty minutes later I looked up again and saw her approaching me. She knelt beside my chair and said, "Thank you for what you said. It meant a great deal, and I'm sorry if I sounded rude. It's just that I have a job to do and I was embarrassed someone noticed I might be a little off." I took her hand and said, "Yes you have a job to do but you are also human. Please take care of yourself." and then I blurted out, "What's your name and may I pray for you?" Honestly I froze--I was on a flight to Atlanta, Georgia and flashbacks of fundamentalism and judgmental religious rhetoric enveloped me--was she going to think I was one of them? (so maybe I'm a little judgmental too...) Instead she teared up, told me her name and said, "Yes."

And I didn't stop there. "I'm a priest." Why did I feel the need to add that? It doesn't matter--I can pray for her regardless....just this very minute I realize why I did and I'm not proud--I did it to defend why I asked her if I could pray for her so that she wouldn't think I was one of those overly annoying religious people--well that's another blogpost...I was so out of my comfort zone.

She looked down at the book I was reading--Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God--and she said, "I wish I could feel God right now." She continued sharing with me her story. "It's not really sickness, but it is a headache and I am dizzy because I can't breathe. I tried to get the day off but they wouldn't let me. You see I have an 18 year old estranged daughter whom I haven't seen in over a year. I made the mistake last night of looking at her instagram and it broke my heart. My husband tells me to stop looking but I just need to know she's still alive even if her life is one of destruction and danger."

I held both her hands and looked into her eyes as she continued talking. "Again thank you for noticing and for saying something," she finished, "It means more than I can say." "We are all humans struggling through life," I responded, "We need to notice each other, and please know you were doing a great job, it just hurt my heart to see you suffering." and then I added, "You are a good person and clearly a loving good and heart broken mother. I understand and I will pray for you." "Thank you," she whispered, rose and walked away.

One of the youth leaned over and said, "That was your good deed for the day. I'm glad you said something to her." It didn't feel like a good deed--it felt like a connection between two souls--two mommys who shared a common humanity.

Over the past few days I have prayed for this woman and her daughter. I have tried to figure out ways to contact her; perhaps I will be able to some day or perhaps that's not part of God's plan.

I didn't want to speak to this woman; I wanted to be left alone. God had a different plan.

I was out of my comfort zone...but not out of God's.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians1:3-4) New International Version

29 November, 2017

Oops I Did It Again--The Perils of Texting

Oops I did it again lyrics have been playing in my mind for a couple of hours....

Or perhaps I should start like this, "Hello my name is Katherine and I'm an over sharer...."

It is true--I over share (everyone can stop falling on the floor laughing). On good days I consider my "over sharing" to be proof of my realness, my transparency, my authentic nature; on not so good days...well, today was one of those.

Earlier I was in a group text with several people I love dearly. It's an interesting group text--as was noted this morning--it could be a comedic sitcom. We're a group of people brought together by our shared faith. I hope you all have friends like that--friends that "society" would say you have nothing in common with, but then something brings you together and you realize society doesn't know what it's talking about. YEAH COUNTER CULTURE!!!

But back to today....

We began talking about how we met and what our first impressions were of one another. I was entertained. Two couldn't even remember the first time they saw each other... As we were communicating I was thinking about writing about us and our counter cultural friendships...then I piped in with my original impressions.

Let me set the stage for you---I was on my way to a meeting dressed in one son's basketball shorts over bike shorts, wearing another son's over sized lacrosse jacket that I had just split coffee down the front (more on that in a minute), and an ale 8 hat. (Note my sons are close to twice my size...)AND, I was walking into my daughter's high school to bring her coffee (the spilled coffee) and her forgotten medicine. As I was walking in she informs me I'm going to have to bring it to her AP biology class that she can't remember the room number but according to her, "You've been to the room before..." The entire class was staring at me and the teacher, who I also love, was shocked at my get up. So to say I was tickled is an understatement. I was in a very silly mood.

So I texted out my first impressions giggling to myself (might have even let forth a snort) because they were so funny and SO inaccurate. Problem was I didn't add that part....other problem was it might have been better if I never said a word...

I went on about my business until a few hours later I received a text which very clearly indicated it was not taken in a humorous way. My first reaction was shame and complete remorse; my second was gratitude. Gratitude that my friend was able to tell me how she felt, explain her reasoning, and I was able to apologize. (Let me add here as an aside--I apologized and told her my real intention BUT they are not an excuse...)

I was going to save this story for later--you know when said "I don't know where my biology class 17 year old daughter" comes home so I could demonstrate the dangers of texting and oversharing. I was going to explain to her that once you put words out there in texts they can't be taken back and they can be read over and over. And I was going to explain to her the words can be so misunderstood. I was also going to tell her how sometimes texting and not seeing someone's face breaks a boundary and we say things we wouldn't normally say--or at least as soon as we said them we would recogize our mistake. I was going to tell her that not everyone will come back to you for clarification--you know I was going to make my mistake a learning experience for her---

Instead I came to work and thought about advent and Christmas--and it became a BIG learning experience for me.

Here's the deal. I do love to text (no comment oh beloved husband of mine). I love staying connected to friends. I love sharing funny stories, pictures and jokes. I love I can stay connected to those I can't see often. But what this season is about is waiting for the birth of God. God in the flesh--Emmanuel--God among us.

God came to be with people in the flesh. Let's face it, it's God. God could have just stayed transcedent and spoken to us in other ways--burning bush, dreams, smoke signals, shoot God could have had his own hashtag #Godspeaking. But God came to be with us, to love us, to see our faces and so we could see his face. God came to be in relationship with us IN THE FLESH!

Those high school seniors who saw me today would probably have not taken anything I had to say seriously; I was laughing and cracking jokes as I handed my baby her medicine. They had a context and a body (albeit a very strange looking body) to understand my words. My friend didn't.

So yes, my name is Katherine and I over share AND I text. But today reminds me of the importance of face to face relationship, and it reminds me that God came to be present with us and God's deepest desire is that we are present with God and one another---

(and btw I really dislike that song and what it means, so please someone send me something to replace it in my head!!!)

28 November, 2017

Advent, Waiting, and Blowing Up Christmas

The other night I was talking to a friend about Christmas traditions--our family has a TON! While recognizing I created these tradition monsters, I am NOT the one who insists we do everything exactly the same every year--from pj's and books on Christmas Eve (hell hath no fury like the four monsters er I mean children the year I bought robes instead of pajamas!)to where pictures have to be taken, to the meal, to the order of opening....and the list goes on.....but last year was different and that's what I was telling her.....

Last year for the first year ever I didn't think all four children would be home and my heart hurt--it wasn't that Boss wasn't going to be home because he was with the love of his life or was on some fabulous trip--no, he had to work and he would be alone. I could find no joy (and I’m sure I’d be FINE if it was the other..) I had no energy-- no energy to decorate the house, no energy to bake cookies, no energy to put out the advent calendar, no energy to continue the traditions without all four. I decided that it would be a good idea to do something different so I didn't have to remember I was missing 1/5 of my heart. I told myself we could return to the traditions the next year when they would all be home. The traditions would just have to wait.

My, I believe great idea, was to BLOW UP CHRISTMAS--literally.  Everyone, except one who shall remain anonymous but might be the one who has had the traditions the longest, was all for it. (or perhaps they were just all for making sure their mama didn't cry every day....)

Every week Chris and I added another inflatable to the yard--it was totally not us. It made me smile; it made me laugh even if it didn't feel like Christmas.
The First Week

As I'm telling my friend this story fully expecting her to also agree I was perhaps the most creative genius that ever had to celebrate the holidays for the first time without all the children, she looked at me, somewhat kindly, and said, "I get you were sad and Boss wasn't going to be here, but what about the other children? Didn't they want to keep the traditions? Wasn't it important for them?"

I deflated like one of the blowups when the cord is pulled.....

This conversation, along with my renewed commitment to running, has made me think deeply about the holidays. As we begin to approach Advent I have been thinking about what that means--

Advent is a time of waiting...

So many of us are waiting for so many things...children to come home for the holidays, reconciliation with loved ones, a new job, retirement,  grief to subside,  a loved one to enter recovery, graduation, college admissions, enduring pain to end, release from the monsters in our minds---and the list goes on. Sometimes the waiting can paralyze us; sometimes the waiting can make us impatient; sometimes the waiting can make us say or do things we may or may not be proud of---much of the time the waiting is anguish.

During Advent we are waiting to celebrate the birth of the Christ child--the incarnate--the flesh of God coming to dwell among us. We are waiting both to celebrate what happened over 2000 years ago and to acknowledge that we are also waiting for the second coming--for the Kingdom of God to fully break into this dark world where pain seems unbearable and waiting seems interminable.

The One Tradition We Kept
As I've been running and thinking it occurs to me that yes we are waiting, but God is asking us to continue living. Advent isn't about doing nothing and waiting for our pain to end, our hearts to heal, the darkness to be lifted. Advent is about being the light--reaching out in our, through our, and despite our pain. God is asking us to remember and reach out to all those who need to feel and experience God's love (perhaps through traditions), and through our reaching out we too will experience God's comfort and love. God is asking us to not get so caught up in our own lives, our own pain, our own grief that we forget others. God is asking us to join with God to help bring the second Advent to a close more quickly. God is asking us to love.

(Oh and all four ended up being home last year and will be again this year--let the traditions continue!)

25 November, 2017

Lessons from Being Out of Shape

Sometimes I practice what I preach--sometimes I don't.

This morning I decided to go for a run--which you are more than welcome to interpret as I needed to cry because SK just left, Boss wasn't home, and William leaves tomorrow--you might even be right. Except I didn't cry (much); I ran and thoughts and feelings came bursting to the surface pulsing through my muscles and maybe just a little bit coming out of my eyes.

I was thinking about how incredibly proud I am of all four children. They have each set goals and worked hard to attain them. I thought about how as they get older I can no longer "fix" things for them, I can only continue to love them and let them live. I was thinking about how they each have faced difficult situations and have dug down deep and proven to themselves and to the world who they truly are. And let's be honest, the challenges continue as they each move forward with transitions....

I started thinking about all the "advice" I give them (some even requested). I tell them nothing worth having/doing necessarily comes easy. There are times you feel like your spinning in circles but you really are moving forward--keep doing the next right thing. I tell them remember who they are and be true to that person. I tell them there is nothing they can do that will ever change my love for them. I tell them to always hold their heads up high, own their mistakes but don't let them define them. I tell them not to make excuses, just do it, own it, be it. I tell them to set their goals and then don't let anything get in their way.

And all the while I was thinking I was running and beating myself up about how out of shape I am, how slow I am, and how much it's going to hurt tomorrow. And then light bulb...

Over the past year (particularly the last 9 months) I have used every excuse in the book to not exercise. I have said "I deserve to sleep in" "I've been dealing with a lot and deserve a break." "It's too cold." "I don't have good shoes" "I'm too busy doing other things that are more important--you know work stuff." "I'm embarrassed about how slow I am now." Now these are all good excuses--and actually you could say they're not excuses just reasons except for the fact I want to be in shape. I see other people running and my heart hurts remembering how freeing running used to be for me. I want it, but I haven't put in the hard work...I want it to be easy and pain free....

And you know what the deep down truth is--when I run I think and I feel, and I haven't wanted to do that. I haven't wanted to feel the pain--not the physical pain not the emotional and spiritual pain. I've wanted to disconnect....

I realized I have to practice what I preach--I have to listen to the advice I give my children about life. It is hard; it takes time; it must be a priority. Some people won't understand, do it anyway. Some people will criticize, do it anyway. You will walk through emotional pain, it will be worth it. You might be embarrassed, who cares? Some people won't understand, remember it's not their life it's yours.

Right now there are many people I deeply love struggling with big issues--walking through tremendous pain and doing it every day, one step at a time. I commit to returning to my running routine, not just because I want to be in shape but because I want to be connected and as I run I connect through prayer and meditation.

I might even cry...

10 November, 2017

Sometimes I'm Slightly Irreverent....

Yesterday during Eucharist as I read the Gospel I had some
thoughts. Truth is some might consider them slightly irreverent. 

I was reading the Gospel of Luke's parable about the lost sheep and the lost coin--you know the one about having 100 sheep but one gets lost and the woman who loses one of her 10 silver coins and literally turns her house upside down to find the one? (Luke 15:1-10) I was trying to put myself in the story--perhaps not the best idea when I'm leading the service.....

I read the words, "Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?" and I thought, "well me! These people must have thought Jesus was nuts--you don't risk losing it all just to find one!" I got distracted, but I kept reading, "Or what woman having ten silver coins,* if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” 

Now that part of ripping a house apart to find something lost I totally get--I've been known to rip my house apart to look for a wool sweater I can't find--and it's in the middle of the summer (remember I do have a therapist). Anyway, but the she finds it and throws a party probably spending way more than just the one lost coin---don't these people understand fiscal responsibility?!?!?!

I might have even started my sermon yesterday by saying, "I wonder if the disciples were thinking to themselves 'well dummy of course we wouldn't leave the 99 and you're an idiot if you're trying to convince us to do otherwise.'" (Sometimes I forget I should filter....)

And now I can't stop thinking about it (read being challenged by both the Gospel and my irreverent thoughts....) The truth is it doesn't make sense to leave 99 and go search for 1--but the other truth is what does Jesus ever do that on the surface makes sense? You've got 99 who aren't running off doing who knows what--they obey, stick together, do what they're supposed to do....

Perhaps that's the point....and my discomfort......

It is easier, makes more sense for us to stay with those who do "the right thing", it's easier for us to stick with those who look like we do, think like we do, and act like we do. It's scary to leave our comfort, our security, the known. Truth be told, it's frustrating to have to go after the ones who won't tow the line--who don't obey--who are, well lost....and it's tempting for us to decide what constitutes being lost and to pity instead of love.

I keep thinking about that lost sheep. It reminds me of something SK said to me when she was 4 (she was a theologian even then....)

I had just picked her up from VBS. The others were 2 weeks, 18 months and almost 3--we had to go to the mall. (I have no idea why and I'm pretty sure it wasn't really necessary but I was postpartum and incredibly sleep deprived....) The babies were in the stroller; I sat Boss on top of the stroller and told SK to hold onto the handle with me. "Why?" she asked. "Because I don't want you to get lost," I told her, "It's crowded in here." (I would very much like credit for not saying, "Because there are crazy people who will steal you from me.") Anyway, she began to giggle, "Oh Mommy it's okay. If I get lost Jesus will just turn me into a sheep and come and find me."

Aren't we supposed to be the hands and feet of God here on earth? Aren't we supposed to step out of our comfort zone?  Aren't we supposed to love and be present for those who feel lost? Aren't we supposed to live in ways that others feel the presence of God? Aren't we supposed to help to bring the kingdom here and now?

I also keep thinking about the woman and the lost coin...

Yes we are supposed to be fiscally responsible, but do we sometimes hide behind what we profess to be "fiscal responsibility" and let others go without? Instead of using some of our money to bring joy to others even at the risk of being considered extravagant, do we convince ourselves it would be foolish; do we worry about what others might say? Do we decide who's worthy based on who is like us or are we called to celebrate everyone as part of God's creation--those like us and those who we struggle to understand--and yes sometimes it might cost us....

The first step is we have to step out--the church is not a building. The church is the people--the people like us and the people not like us. We have to be in the world where the lost are, the lonely are, and those who don't feel worthy are. We have to believe and help others believe that if they do feel lost, lonely and afraid they will be found.

08 November, 2017

"Yep You Probably Did Mess Up Your Kids"

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Which is probably why I'm sitting in front of a fire (that is not starting well--please dear God not another day like yesterday), sitting at my grandmother's desk wrapped in my monogrammed blanket (trying to channel her), drinking coffee, typing on my daughter's computer because mine is dead (it just might be another day like yesterday..), with weary eyes because I didn't sleep well....

Yep, it was that kind of day. The kind of day which despite my best efforts things went wrong. Lots of things went wrong, but most importantly some things involving relationships happened--misunderstandings where I could have possibly hurt others--others I love deeply. It was unintentional, but our conversations were uncomfortable and although we "resolved" things I am still carrying the pain and heart ache with me and hoping the relationships are not damaged even the smallest bit. And the worst part is knowing there is nothing more I can do about it. It is the past....

It's like last week in my therapist's office when I said (after telling her about the weekend seeing my 3 out of state children), "I'm so scared I've done something to damage them. That somehow I've messed up some things." And her response, "Yep you probably have. You probably helicoptered when you shouldn't have--not as much as some" (she clearly didn't want me to fire her on the spot), "but you have to remember all you did, all you do is because you love them and you did and are doing the best you can." (For the record yesterday Caroline ASKED me to helicopter....)

My "messed up" loves
Those words have stayed with me all week, well mainly the part of "yep you probably have" why would I focus on the "because you love them part?" That would be far too easy. And I have resisted (at least up until now) asking each of them, "How did I hurt you? How did I mess you up? What could I have done better?" I have wanted to beg forgiveness and explain everything. (But I suspect that might be one of those things that "messes" them up....) A thought just hit me, I mean right this very real time minute, I will probably learn what those things are as they parent their own children because there are things they will do very differently from me. (SK once told me in a 12 year old tirade, "I wish you'd stop being the mother you wanted and be the mother I want." She has always been wise beyond her years, and I have tried to heed her advice. Sometimes I even succeed....)

So I didn't sleep last night; instead I worried (you can read neurotically if you'd like) about relationships with others and with my children. I took a looooong walk down memory lane cataloging moments in time. Asking myself, "Was this one of those moments which led to.....?" And you know what? It did nothing but make me tired this morning.

At our wedding the words from Colossians 3:12-14 were read, "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another, and if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." The Rev. Donald Fishbourne gave a homily I have never forgotten especially one particular point. He said, "It's not if you hurt one another but when you hurt one another that these words matter." What he forgot to add was, "and you must also forgive yourselves."

I am also reminded of another story often told by another wise man.  (I really wish I'd remembered at 2 am so I could have slept...) Anyway, my bishop, The Rt. Rev. Terry White talks about the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. He says it's not that you don't then know the pieces were broken, but they become even more valuable, even more beautiful. He reminds us that is how relationships work. This morning I am clinging to that hope.

I suspect I will continue to beat myself up about theses particular relationships and many others. I will continue to agonize over things I have done although with good intentions, the truth is that is part of who I am. But I will also try to be more gentle and loving with myself.(Chris did say last night after I exploded about everything, "but darling you are doing so much better. If this happened 3 or 4 years ago you would be in a puddle on the floor.") I will try to give myself the grace I give others, and above all I will try to live a life that understands there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:28 tells us, "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God," I believe that includes icky, uncomfortable situations and relationships. I believe that includes the parts of our lives we see as so broken there could not possible be any hope.

I believe it--now I must act on it. Now I must live it.

PS--My fire is now blazing!!!

06 November, 2017

My Thoughts on Tragedy Today (tomorrow they may be different, only time will tell....)

One of the most difficult times to be a priest is when tragedy occurs. Unfortunately that means it is often difficult--and for the record it never gets easier. I have had people reach out to me and ask me for some words--words of comfort, words of hope. The words are racing around my head some getting lost and some remaining motionless like children playing freeze tag on a warm summer evening...

Here are the thoughts that keep coming....

The reporters keep stressing the number of children who were victims. My heart does indeed break for these young lives who were just starting to live, but I can't help but wonder about the others and how it almost seems as though they are less important. Everyone's family is grieving. Loss of life by violence is tragic regardless of age. I keep thinking about the adults who died and thinking they also had a lot left to give the world--their wisdom, their experience, their love, and yes their hope.

I've had several people ask me how I would handle it if one of my children were killed in the church I serve. The short answer is I don't think I could. But I also keep thinking about the other children who were killed and their parents will also have to bury them, mourn them and then figure out a way to continue living. No parent should have to bury a child for any reason no matter what their vocation is. No person should have to bury a loved one because of senseless acts of terror.

I also think about the other clergy in the area. I suspect they will step up, step out and be the pastoral presence for the pastor and his family along with every other family who was impacted and will be impacted by this senseless act of terror. Because that's what people do--they step up, they reach out, the love on another in anyway they can. For the other clergy it will be as pastoral presence, there will also be people cooking and serving in any way they can. Everyone is a part of the body of Christ--their is no hierarchy of importance.

Oh, and I am irate and shaking at the comment, "it wasn't a gun that killed these people, it was mental illness." No, see it was a gun or maybe more than one that was in the hand of someone who may have been mentally ill--and I do believe we need to talk about the issue of guns. But we also need to talk about the issue of mental illness starting with not every person who is mentally ill would do something like this. I'm terrified and furious that we might now be stereotyping the "mentally ill" pushing those among us, some of the most vulnerable, back into the wilderness alone and afraid.

And by the way who gets to decide whose mentally ill? DSM V? News reporters? Family? Therapists? Friends? The President? Seems to me we should leave passing out those labels to the professionals...

I have also heard people saying, "I don't know how God can allow this is His house? Shouldn't we be safe in God's house?" First and hear me loudly, God DID NOT allow this. One man allowed this--one man planned and carried out this execution. And I get the church is called "God's house" but this world is God's world. Every act of violence whether at a church, a school, a movie theater, a concert, a park, a home is an act of violence in God's world--EVERY ONE! And we should be able to be safe anywhere in it--ANYWHERE!

So if you've asked for what I have to say that's it. If you've asked what I'm doing, I'm praying; I'm praying for the victims and their families, for the first responders, for the mentally ill, for the whole community, for the whole world and for the strength to not give into the fear and shelter myself away.

And tomorrow morning at 7 am the doors of St. Thomas will be open for anyone to come and share in the Eucharist. We will not let the bounds of evil and hate paralyze us; we will continue to do the work God is calling us to do, to have the difficult conversations and debates God is calling us to have, to let our voices be heard. That work begins and extends from the altar. I hope, if you are able, you will join me.