The Rock Piles of Ministry: Who Knew?

 

DSC_0382

Behold. A rock pile.

Not just any rock pile. Oh, no! It’s taken years to get this pile of rocks.

There was a decent start to the pile when we moved in 22 years ago. As I dug new garden beds, I’d find rocks and add them. When we added a retaining wall, the landscape crew added to the rock pile. When we did a major remodeling of our home, the builder found even more. And when I installed a simple spiral labyrinth in the back yard, there were incredible amounts of rocks to toss on there, too.

Everyone was glad to have a place to discard the rocks. It was a lot easier than taking them to the landfill. Each contractor looked at me askance (at first) when I said, “if you find large rocks, I want them.” But since it was cheaper to reuse rather than remove them, there were no arguments!

I learned a lot along the way because of these rocks. Patience. Perseverance. Techniques of rock removal (yep! there are some!) Reality checks. And seeing progress and naming it for the hard work it takes.

 

 

Some of these rocks made my new landscaping projects very frustrating. At the start of building the labyrinth, I bent every single hand tool I owned because they were not up to the task of chiseling large rocks out of clay!

So now… those rocks are no longer discards!

It was with a bit of irony that I had to haul loads of these rocks back down the hill to grace the edges of a water feature we just installed this spring. Three wheelbarrows of rocks. (Yes. I counted.) And as I heaved and hauled and placed them, I had to laugh. Here they are. Being put to good use. Finally in their right place.

pond

It made me ponder a perverse truth about Calling and ministry…

For any of us who battle ourselves, our environments, our churches, our relationships to be finally FINALLY brought to just that right moment of ministry… it’s seems like it will never work. We interview. We candidate. We preach. We study. We try to do our best, battling the odds like rocks in hard clay. We set things aside for another day, making a muddy hillside into a landscaping feature of a retaining wall of cast-off rocks. We try to see the beauty in what we do. We keep adding to the pile. And then… and then!!!!

Those rock piles of ministry are put to use. Those mossy, ignored, strengths that we have set aside in obedience, or sometimes, out of necessity and not by choice, they suddenly become relevant. And they are beautiful, in their right setting, at the right time.

I hear you, friends. I know your sense of relief. And a bit of wonder, too, that though we felt like we were forever gathering moss, perhaps even feeling useless, we will one day see a change!  For now… NOW is the appointed place and time God has for us. There’s stuff to do – even on a rock pile. And greater things are ahead.

And if you are still waiting, like me, marking time on the rock pile with a prayer of fatigue and longing, know this…

You are not a cast-off.

You are not a mistake.

You are not in the way.

You are called… press on!

…for such a time as this…

 

A Guide to Pentecost Shoes

A recent lament by another RevGal about finding TRULY “Pentecost Red” shoes caused me to peruse a local discount store. One of my PKs was shopping for a special outfit and I had time to kill.

So (with apologies to store security who probably wondered wtf I was doing,) I present my (very tongue-in-cheek)…

A Guide to Pentecost Shoes

1. The Pantsuit-Meets-Ankle-Surgery Flashback

When I see velour, I think bell bottoms and pantsuits. When I see shoes like this, I think my friends who are post-surgery (knees or ankles) would smile. My achy-breaky knees hear your hearts go pitter-pat!

2. Nancy Sinatra would agree: These Boots are made for Praisin’

I’ll confess I don’t see these with my robes or a cassock and surplice… but I know some of my sister clergy would rock the church in their Sunday best suits! DO. IT.

3. Liturgical Dance Shoes

I can walk and chew gum (with practice). A dancer I am not! I think I’d spend most of Sunday morning just trying to tie these on… but you Sister Dancer, you do you! I will rejoice that God gave someone else the gift of gracefulness!

4. Post-Baptistery Quick Change Pumps

For my beloved Baptist clergy sisters, these are fancier than plain pumps and have no buckles or straps! Slip on, zip up and GO! The choir will still be singing the end of the opening hymn, and you’ll be out of your waders, and robed and rocking these beauties! (Please remember to get your pedicure!)

5. Kum-ba-yah Campfire Shoes

So your church takes “Shall We GatherAt the River” seriously and has a camp-out Pentecost weekend? Never fear! Your river-friendly shoes are here!

6. Practically Cute

You know who you are… Four services in heels would kill you and your sanctuary’s A/C is busted. These summer flats will do the trick!

7. Be still, my heart!

They’re cute! They’re not too high a heel! They’re that happy candy apple red that just screams “PENTECOST!” Success!!!

 

Do you have a pair of Pentecost footwear to share? I know you do… So please post a pic in the comments!

 

et lux perpetua…

Today during our Hospice team meeting, we stopped at the 10 o’clock hour to honor the lives lost in Parkland, Florida just two weeks ago. Just two weeks…

I re-lit our memorial candles to read the 17 names. After two or three names, I could not go on. So I passed the paper to a co-worker… and to another… and then we stood in silence. And tears.

At my regular team meeting, I read the names of recent deaths, and we have a moment to honor them. Sometimes I get a lump in my throat and feel a little sad. The stories and lives of our patients affect us deeply. We know we are in a sacred work.

But this… this was so very difficult. So very, very different.

This was random.
This was evil.
This was violent.
This was full of pain.
This was senseless.

Right before I blew out the candles, I said to my teammates, “May their lights continue to shine.”

Indeed.

…et lux perpetua luceat eis…

And let perpetual Light shine upon them.

Amen.

What does your garden grow?

Does it grow compassion?  Are you aware of the deep hurts and needs of others?

Does it nuture other’s growth? 

Is it suffering from a lack of awareness because of your in attention?

Does it celebrate beauty? 

Does it let the Light of the world shine through?

Does it humbly learn from mistakes of the past? 

What does your garden grow?

Wearing a legacy

stolepic

Lace created by my grandmother, Claudia Bishop Harsh.

This morning I put on my robe and reached for a purple stole. I have two… but I chose this one.

I pieced this stole last year from odds and ends and purchased purple swatches. Considering I had never created a stole before, it was a work of much guesswork and happy accidents.

As I wrote last year, I was a bit uncertain how to finish this stole. The embroidered findings of a cross or bread and cup would not show clearly on the piecework. And it needed something, oh… a little more personal! 

And then… as I rummaged and searched for the right finishing touches, I found the family heirloom lace and knew… a commercially created cross would not work. Carefully, I trimmed and sewed pieces of this lace on my stole. I would wear the handwork of my foremothers around my neck.

On Easter Sunday, I will wear more of my family’s heirloom lace on my white robe. As I pray and sing and offer Communion, I will again wear the legacy of my family’s faith. This lace trim, created by my great-aunt Maurine, was painstakingly sewn on late into the night on Holy Saturday last year.

IMG_0988

In the basting stages last year: hand-tatted lace created by my Great-aunt Maurine Bishop.

Not everyone gets to wear their family’s love on their sleeve. I know that as I celebrate on Easter Sunday, I bring my family with me. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins bring a sense of “grounding” to my faith. I wear a labor of love!

I serve from a place of privilege, for I know I am encouraged and prayed for, welcomed and loved. I worship in safety. I can express my beliefs without fear of persecution.

I wear a legacy… one that I hope to never forget.

Thanks be to God!