About Me

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I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The call to receptivity

At the retreat I led this morning I used this quote from Brian McClaren

"The call to faith is the call to trust God and God’s dreams enough to realign our dreams with God’s, to dream our little dreams within God’s big dream. The call to receptivity is the call to continually receive God’s dreams—a process that seems to be a lifelong one. The call to baptism is the call to publicly identify with God’s dream and to disassociate with all competing isms or ideologies that claim to provide the ultimate dream (including nationalism, consumerism, hedonism, conservatism, liberalism, and so on). And the call to practice is the call to learn to live the way God dreams for us to live."
"McLaren, "Found in Translation" (Sojourners, March 2006)

"To dream our little dreams within God's big dream" -- I like that as an image for discerning the call on each of our lives. And receptivity: being able to receive the good gifts that God is always trying to give us. Something we tend to find difficult. That's what the retreat this morning focused on.

Receptivity: something we tend to find difficult. Here's a story that I like to use to give a sense of what we're doing at times of retreat and Sabbath -- in lives that seem mostly occupied with everything but God's love and presence:
My best friend was a seminarian where I teach, quite some time ago now. This is a friend with whom I go way back -- we met at women's Bible study, told our life stories pushing our kids on the swings, and worked out our dreams, theologies, anxieties and visions for life drinking coffee in each other's kitchens. We grew up together as adults -- that kind of friend. Anyway, at the seminary in those days there would be a mass of people flowing from morning chapel over to our mailboxes, and we would all follow the crowd. One September morning, both propelled by the same crowd, my friend and I ran into each other briefly and she greeted me with a gift bag in her hand. It was my birthday, and she had remembered. She started to ask if we could get together sometime that day so I could open her gift, but I got interrupted repeatedly - a student asking a question from class, a faculty colleague greeting me -- I kept getting pulled away. Finally, my friend placed herself in my path, looked me in the eye, and said, "Please tell me when I can have ten minutes of your time so that I can give you this present."
I heard the voice of God in the voice of my friend that day(actually, with this particular friend it's not just this instance: she's been the voice of God for me plenty of times), but in this story particularly, I hear the voice of God, saying to me and to all of us: "When can you find some time so I can give you this present?"
Receptivity. Making time to receive God's gifts. Themes to ponder, in this season of Lent.

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful story, once again, I may have to use it - I am pondering some morning devotions that I need to write for a Presbyerian Women's gathering at which I will be serving as chaplain. The theme of the gathering is blessings and abundance - this little story fits right in.
    thanks for this blog- I find it a breath of fresh air in my cubicle life.