Archive for February, 2011

Goodbye Ducks

// February 25th, 2011 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

This week we say goodbye to the ducks. Now, we can visit of course. But we say goodbye to our glass enclosed worship space. Goodbye to watching the trees breathe while an ancient psalm is sung. Goodbye to baby ducks hatched on Easter morn. Adios to the shirtless rollerbladers, the kamikaze birds smacking the window during the Conversation, the squirrels mating during our hymn.

Our culture does not say goodbye well.

Consequently, change can provoke a free-floating anxiety as it stirs up previous goodbyes that have left us raw. Often this happens below the surface so we are just left feeling out of sorts and weird, without knowing why.

Other times we race on to the next thing or place, eager to experience the new and sure that whatever dissatisfaction we have felt in one venue (or with one set of neighbors) will be replaced by only sweetness and light in the next.

Some people only feel the accumulated anxiety, while others race through transitions and hope that the feelings don’t catch up. Some people do a bit of both.

I think it is good to be honest about these tendencies. They are real and they are human. God holds us in compassion during these times as I hope we are able to hold each other.

Yet, there is an invitation embedded in times of change– to use the experience to see ever more clearly.

If we are honest with ourselves we recognize that we can’t control life even when we are in our most comfortable spaces and patterns. Bad stuff still happens; people we love get hurt or hurt us; poor health strikes us or loved ones. Change just pulls back the veil of the familiar routines which cover that inconvenient truth.

We had a beautiful time on Sunday with folks fromHumaFaith, an interfaith program with a house in Oak Cliff for people on the road to recovery. The HumaFaith residents are in transition as they leave behind addictions and foster new relationships and ways of living. Over tasty brisket, mashed potatoes, fruit and ice-cream they shared their stories—most of which contained deep suffering alongside heart-felt gratitude for HumaFaith and fresh opportunities. Many CitC folk expressed to me how they were deeply moved by the resident’s resiliency growing out of their vulnerability. In the midst of big change (or maybe because of it) these residents maintain a radical openness to acknowledging both the shadows of life as well as the beauty it can offer. In short, they modeled a non-dualist mind.

This week let us reset our goodbye patterns. No need to race through our move, nor to indulge in unnecessary anxiety. Let us instead choose to walk consciously through the change, acknowledging with open eyes what we leave behind at Kidd Springs and all the hopes we bring to the Kessler Theater.

The ducks have been really good for this community. Nature has been a balm for weary souls— many of us spend more of life than we would like at a computer screen and often feel fragmented and separated from the deep rhythms of the seasons.

Now the invitation is to trust that all that we have learned from being church in this space will travel well with us.

And the invitation is to be grateful. To take the time to tell those ducks you love ‘em. And to appreciate that a little corner of the city will always feel sacred for all the accumulated vibrations of song and story we have shared there.

The truth is that the whole city is sacred. Yet it is through the practice of sitting in community, week after week, that we have been gifted with eyes to recognize God,  right there at the pond’s edge.

Join us Sunday. 11am. Kidd Springs.

Lets say goodbye well, so that we can say hello with full hearts.

Peace to you all this day,

Courtney

Baquee, Huma-Faith Executive Director says thanks

May God reward you all greater than the good intended towards us (Huma-Faith). We had a wonderful experience yesterday. Our residents were truly touched in a most positive way. I believe the parable of the Leaven is realized, as the spirits of our residents did rise. Again, I was shocked at their openness–revealing themselves, Wow! You all have helped me to realize that Huma-Faith is guided by That or Whom is Greater than what our minds conceive. Peace & Blessings!!!

Live at the Kessler Theater

// February 23rd, 2011 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

Join us for our final service at Kidd Springs Rec Center this Sunday at 11am as we say goodbye to worship with the ducks and Hello to the Kessler Theater starting March 6!

Granny

// February 17th, 2011 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

Dear Friends,

Friday early afternoon I got a message from my mother that said this: “Granny fell yesterday AM. Couldn’t get up all day finally pushed button she wears and para med came and broke door. She is in hospital. Dr. thinks heart attack and kidney prob. She is very confused.” She was on the floor one whole day. She would call out “help me, help me” until she had no strength and then she would just sort of lay her head down and sleep. She managed to get a glass of water off her bedside table but other than that she had nothing to eat or drink. She is diabetic, and 97 years old. We all thought she was dying.

My mom, dad and one sister were out of town. My other sister was having a medical procedure done. My aunt’s husband was just getting out of the hospital. In short, I looked around the extended family and saw that I was on! So I threw a bunch of stuff in bags-and as I was flying around the house, grabbing clothes, food, baby toys I was also praying and crying. I remembered a book I read about a young Episcopalian priest whose husband gets caught in their church when it was on fire and is pulled out unconscious. On the ride to the hospital she sits in the back of the ambulance with him and demands of God, you better get down here and help him breathe.

My prayer was pretty similar: an ultimatum prayer. I said, I better make it God, and you better be with her until I get there. You better let her know that though she was alone on that hard floor for twelve hours she is not alone in this world. And I better get to hold her hands and rub those fingers– rough with all the cotton she has picked in her lifetime–with some lavender scented oil. And tell her that I love her. That we love her. And that she can go peacefully. I wanted to love her into the next world.

And thanks be to God we made it. And it turns out she did not have a heart attack and although very shaken by the whole experience, she is physically alright. And she is now gifted with a sense of peace as she moves from her assisted-living apartment into the nursing home this week. She knows that it is time for her to be closer to other people.

Rosetta and I sat by her bedside for many hours, as Richie and Coleman and Perl moved us into the hotel and got dinner. And the next morning we came back and sat with her some more. What an experience just to be in her presence. To help her sit up comfortably and open her cereal box. To bring her a warm washcloth to wipe her face and hands. Coleman cut her a heart for Valentines day and set up a circle of little stones and a battery-operated candle on her bedside table. She processed through the experience with me some-saying that she knows God was with her down on the floor and that she wouldn’t have made it otherwise.

I share all of this to say thank you. Thank you for the prayers-those of you in our Church in the Cliff Facebook group received a message from Scott in real time as we drove to Hillsboro. And thank you for being willing to be vulnerable with each other. Those of you there on Sunday even anointed each others hands with lavender oil. That was the real take home message for me from my time with Granny- a strong desire to just get on with the loving. Not out of obligation or guilt or a sense that we should, but because God is really so there in the loving. There on the floor with a thirsty, tired old woman and there with a young mama who was crying, cursing, and feverishly throwing bags in the back of a Subaru. God is there in our relationships to each other. And sometimes there is so much love that it sloshes over. And our world is parched for this love.

Join us Sunday as we conclude our Godly Play for Grownups series with the Parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13:33). We also will be honoring St. Brigid–patron saint of the pantry, and of midwives and newborn babes. Rumor has it that our newest CitC addition, Aurelia Murcia-Olvera, born on 1/28 to Catalina, Luis and big sister Bela, may make an appearance. We hope everyone can make it to welcome the new life in our midst.

Peace to you this day,

Courtney

Funerals and Pearls

// February 13th, 2011 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

On Saturday I officiated at the funeral service for my Uncle Bennie. It was my first funeral, and it was challenging to lead a service for family. I would look out and see people hurting, and they were my people, and that made it hard. I got to where I couldn’t even focus on faces: Rhonda who lost a loving father-in-law, Judy who lost a husband of 52 years, and Bennie’s three sons: Bennie Ray, Tim and Les with a sea of emotions moving across their faces.
 
But we do not cry if we do not love, my mentor Barbara reminded me before I left. The pain is an indication of our connectedness to another.
 
I lost my voice leading the burial service –standing in the cold mud beside Bennie’s grave and trying to be heard by the group spread awkwardly around on all sides. The sun broke through that afternoon, and the sky was clean, and the moist ground and the moist eyes of Bennie’s people mirrored each other.
 
It was a moment of worship.
 
I came home feeling scrubbed clean by the brisk wind at the cemetery and stretched out by those wide West Texas horizons that filled our view on the drive home.
 
Our lives can so easily collapse in on themselves, can’t they? The intensity of work and of caring for self and others overwhelms so that even the fun stuff like preparing meals or giving little cuties a bath can just leave one feeling out of breath and out of alignment with the Spirit or our better self.
 
Today I am thankful for Bennie and his compassion and kindness. I am thankful for a family that loves even as they grieve, and turns their gaze from the grave to each other. And I am grateful for the shift in perspective this weekend granted even as I am so happy to embrace again the everyday rhythms.
 
I pray that worship in our community can always be a space to remind us of these deeper truths and to soften our hearts and to connect our lives.
 
Peace to you all this day,
 
 
Courtney
 
Please join us Sunday as we continue our series on Godly Play and hear and discuss the parable of the Great Pearl (Mttw 13:45-46). 

Richie and I host our St. Brigid’s Feast this Tuesday 6-8pm. Join us for potato soup as we celebrate this Irish saint whose vision of heaven was sitting around a lake of beer with her beloveds. (In addition to the soup, we’ll provide cheap beer and gluten free cookies, you bring the good stuff!) 2515 Gladiolus Ln. Dallas. This will be a very kid-friendly venue with crafts and special St. Brigid’s prayers. come all!
 
The board is working out our final lease agreement with the Kessler Theater so mark your calendars for a special service to say good bye to the ducks on Sun Feb. 27th!