A prayer tonight For Those Who Feel Helpless

 

A pray tonight for those who Feel Helpless. Who think they are never going to be able to do enough, so they don’t try. Who are petrified of speaking on the phone, so they don’t call. Who hear about a friend going through a terrifying experience and can’t begin to figure out how to help, because if you only have $25 is it better to give it to him or give it toward a cause that could alleviate what caused the situation. Who can’t articulate the dream, so they don’t make the goals, so they don’t make the plan. Who have done All The Things Right, made the calls, made the plans, and still just feel like they didn’t help at all.

In all we encounter, may Grace ever be our guide. May we seek Grace. May we offer it abundantly to one another. May we be Grace-filled. May Grace ease our Spirits and rejuvenate us. May Grace inspire us and carry us.

May we rest in God’s peace this night.

W/R/L | 30 April – 6 May 2017

When last we met, Dear Readers, I was in the midst of some stressful work transitions. Still lots of stress this week, and also confusion about time because I was traveling on Thursday and Friday and I kept thinking Friday was Saturday and Saturday was Sunday, so at this point just feels like I’m channeling Hei Hei.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

I love a good GIF. Besides looking for great Moana GIFs this week, I…

WATCHED

General Hospital and Grey’s Anatomy. And I have thoughts. If you’re a fan of either of these shows, read on. If not, that’s OK, I’ll see you later in the post.

I love my stories and I am unabashedly a fan of serialized storytelling. People will say to me “That would never happen.” Exactly. That is EXACTLY why I watch Grey’s and General Hospital. Because it’s not real. Reality is pretty sucky sometimes.

I made time to watch General Hospital this week specifically because Jane Elliot, the actress who played Tracy Quartermaine on and off for 30+ years was leaving the show, and I wanted to see how they would send her off.  I had my idea of what would a super-great sendoff, but I wanted to see if that would work out.

Here’s the thing – press had already confirmed that an actor was returning to the show – presumably to help the character leave Port Charles – but I had no idea because I have been so busy and stressed that I didn’t pay attention to one spoiler over the last month for General Hospital. And let me tell you, I am a spoiler-holic. I love reading previews and spoilers for TV shows. I love them so much that I read them on TVLine for shows I don’t even watch! But I missed the crucial one about this actor & character returning, so when I watched the episode, I was completely surprised – hoping it might be so but still wondering – until he appeared. And it was absolutely perfect. Just lovely.

Which brings me to Grey’s. There are only two episodes left in this season, which has had brilliant, exquisite moments to be sure, but overall has felt a little uneven, especially with regard to the pacing of the stories. Even with a fairly extended break from December to February, it feels like there are almost too many episodes in the season, causing the pace of the plot lines to gooooo sooooo long. Grey’s always has 22-24 episodes per season, which means there’s usually a lot of hurry up and wait with developments, and the big stuff happens during Sweeps, but this season the various long-term arcs dragged through most of the season. Maybe I just prefer when arcs semi-resolve and then kick off another arc, or when something simmers along and then the pop in a little surprise that moves it along a bit, leaving you wanting a little more. This season it took 20 episodes to resolve(ish) something set in motion at the end of last season. A YEAR ago.  Meanwhile, the canvas is huge, so that some characters have little to no screentime, and I am RACKING my brain to think of two characters who have been chem-tested through the season who might start a romance, or even a previous couple on the verge of reuniting.

And let’s be honest, as much as I love all the crazy medical storylines, doctors cutting LVADs, shootings, car crashes, bombs, ferry crashes and airplane crashes, the reason I watch my Stories is for the romances. I’m a sucker for them. This is a problem General Hospital is having right now, too. We’re not heading for any great romances, no amazing weddings, not even any heartbreaking breakups that we can hope will eventually result in reunions.

Sigh.

Meanwhile, we know that there’s at least one character being added to Grey’s that will bring some drama, one character that’s leaving and the theoretical potential for one character to get added that would cause some SERIOUS turmoil, but I suspect that the timing isn’t quite right for that. Still, Shonda Shocks us all the time, so who knows? What I do know is that I’ll keep watching, because even at their not best, both Grey’s and GH are better than reality. At the very least, I get to spend an hour or so ranting about these inconsequential things and not thinking about things like healthcare laws and election hacking.

READ

I’m still reading “The Road to Little Dribbling” by Bill Bryson, in which Bryson is his usual curmudgeonly self while exploring the UK, sharing bits of history and insights into how the UK does things. I’ve been reading it and pulling up the sites he visits on Google Earth to get a sense of the geography, which has led me to lovely Google-holes learning about the New Forest and plotting my own dream trip to the UK, though I’m not sure Bournemouth will be on the list.

The other long-form thing I read was a report on the state of youth, young adult/college and camping ministries for the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t delve into a report like this, especially when I’m not directly involved in the ministries of the conference any more, but I have a short yet meaningful history with the camping ministry of the church and know several people whose time at church camp transformed them, often resulting in a call to professional church ministry in some capacity. And, my ongoing interest in faith formation makes me continually curious about how conferences and synods are addressing different audiences. So, I read it.

I have many thoughts about the report, but here’s the one I think is most salient: one of the reasons church camp is such a good thing for kids is that it creates a space where kids get to do things they like to do (equestrian, swimming, hiking, crafts, sing, etc.) within a context that also allows them to talk about their faith. It’s not surprising to go to camp with people who share your faith; it’s expected. If your family is sending you to church camp, it’s probably because they want you to have that experience. You connect with other kids who also express their faith, you’re given an opportunity to explore that faith, and you see people living out their faith – often over a period of a few years. This is invaluable to discipleship and to ultimately fostering vocations.

Our seminaries are filled with people who have come because of a meaningful experience with the Divine later in life, when they’ve already established a career, often when they’ve established a family. This encounter with the Divine changes them, and they discern a call to something different, a call to professional church ministry, and so they go to seminary.

Church camp does that for youth, and if you create and foster a supportive environment for youth discipleship that is then fostered through college, I posit that you’ll have more people discerning a call earlier in their life.

It all begins with people being willing to talk about their faith, to be a disciple, and to connect with one another because of their faith.

(I’m not even going into my thoughts about what might happen if we started talking ecumenically about how to support one another in our youth/camp/college ministries. GASP.)

LISTENED

The usual suspects: Make Me Smart, Pod Save America and Pod Save the World and one new one: Up First from NPR, a 10 minute summary of the news of the day. Super helpful.

And that was my week.

 

 

The Intermingling of Our Days

Today Mysteria ventures into the mysteries of intermingled, interfaith calendars with Meredith Gould. Meredith is my good friend and fellow pilgrim. You can connect with her via her website and on Twitter:  @MeredithGould.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of

It’s the sacred season of Advent and we’re coming up on the O Antiphons. My childhood hanukkiah is ready-to-go. Yes, that’s right – the pink candle has been lit for the third Sunday of Advent and I’ve found last year’s stash of birthday cake candles, which are the only ones that will fit into the cups of my diminutive hanukkiah. I may be baptized, but I’ll always be a Jew in identity, something that makes for an interesting interior life, especially when traditions from my childhood and adulthood collide.

This year (2014/5775) the O Antiphons are in near perfect alignment with Hanukkah. Eight days of candle lighting begin at sundown on December 16. Seven days of chanting the O Antiphons begin on December 17.  Given the sweep of time and movement of the moon, I’m sure these traditions have converged at other times, but not in my experience.*

Strange but true: I look forward to contemplating a potent mash-up of obedience, self-defense, waiting, surrender, death, birth, and miracles. Also strange and true: it’s a familiar mix of contemplative fodder made more present and potent by the coming together of these ways to commemorate extraordinary encounters with God.

I’m comforted by knowing that the O Antiphons, which are based on passages from Isaiah, begin with O Sapientia (Wisdom). I’m sustained by knowing that the first night of Hanukkah includes this blessing, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.”

This year, Hanukkah ends on Christmas Eve.​ God? With us always.

*Jews have celebrated Hanukkah since 138 B.C.E. and the O’s became an Advent prayer tradition by the 8th C.E.