We Are All Complex

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We are all complex. I wish I were made of just one self — consistent, wise and loving — a self I should never wish to get rid of at any time or place, which would move graciously through my autobiography ‘trailing clouds of glory.’ … It is no use trying to reconcile the multitude of egos that compose me. I cannot fathom them myself. I ask myself questions that I cannot answer. I find my heart aching when I expected to find it rejoicing; tears flow from my eyes when my lips were formed to smile. I preach love … and peace, but I am conscious of antagonisms, and lo! I find myself brandishing a sword and making ready for battle.

– Helen Keller
My Later Life
Quoted in inward/outward

If You Knew

All the hatred, divisions, and polarization in our world today has gotten me thinking …

If you knew all of me,
Would you still be my friend?
Would you respect me, think highly of me, love me?
Or would you count me as stranger, as less than, as condemned?

If you learned my immigration status,
My HIV test results,
My choice to terminate a pregnancy.

If you discovered my divorces,
My politics,
My sexual orientation or gender identity.

If you knew the mistakes I have made,
The people I have hurt,
The demons I fight,

Would you still look at me
Through eyes of love?
Or would you turn away,
See through me as you walk
To the other side of the road?

God’s Welcome – A Retreat

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I’ll be worship leader at an upcoming 5-day contemplative retreat on the theme of “God’s Welcome.” I hope you’ll join us as we explore the crucial theme of hospitality.

Here are the specifics:

God’s Welcome: A 5-Day Contemplative Retreat
Date: October 16-21, 2016
Faculty: The Right Reverend Kee Sloan (Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama) and Dr. Amy Oden (Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University)
Location: Camp McDowell, Nauvoo, AL
Cost: $750 (room, board and tuition)

God’s Welcome is sponsored by the North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida Conferences of The United Methodist Church, The Academy for Spiritual Formation, and The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

Download the flyer to learn more. Or register here.

I hope to see you there!!

What Have We Become?

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I usually wake up early,
Turn on the news,
And go back to sleep.

This morning I was shocked awake
By the news of further violence.
The targeting of police officers in Dallas.
A suicide attack at a Muslim shrine in Iraq.

God of Love, what have we become?
We need you now.
We are broken, torn apart,
Permeated with a violent malignancy.

Come, quickly.
Come, now, and heal this hurting world.
Amen.

A prayer for today.

Lord, Have Mercy

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I wrote this prayer a few weeks ago in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting. Since then, there was the attack in the Istanbul airport and, this morning, news of a bombing in a Bangladesh restaurant. I offer it here as I continue to struggle with the violence that continues around the world.

The news is bad.
We are outraged and horrified.
We are shocked and afraid.
We are overwhelmed and numb.
How many more times will we awake to such news?

Some of us sit in front of the television,
Search the internet for stories,
Watch, listen for something
That will help make sense,
That will soothe or comfort,
That will bring order back again.

Some of us can’t bear the words, the images.
The press conferences and scrolling news feeds
Freeze our brains, our hearts, our guts.

Some of us pray.
Some of us escape.
Some of us rage.
Some of us cry.

God, have mercy on our world.
Have mercy on the powerless and the powerful.
Have mercy on the first responders and those in ministry to the brokenhearted.
Have mercy on the victims, their families, their friends.

Sit with us in our terror, our sadness, our hopelessness.
And let us hold the space for others as we
Sit or cry, light candles or pray,
In solidarity, in hope, in love.
Amen.