Bacon and Beans: Sacred Waiting

I’ve had dry beans soaking for 23.5 hours now. Some pinto beans.

Dry beans, dry beans

A beer and some water cover the beans just to the top and I’ve been adding more in over the course of almost 24 hours to slack the thirst of those parched beans. I’ve had to add over 4 cups.

I pour the beans into a colander and let them drip while I add bacon pieces to a big stock pot on the stove. Heat that bad boy up and hear it sizzle and pop. My salivary glands wake-up as the smell of bacon fills the kitchen. I add some minced garlic and let it brown in the fat.

A few cups at a time I add the beans into the pot. And next some water- back up to the top of the beans. Season with herbs.

I drop the heat to a low simmer, give one last stir, and put on the lid.

And wait.

The beans will simmer for about 12 hours- all day, and will come off the heat tonight after dinner. An occasional stir here and there. Nothing else to do but wait.

And in the waiting, the aroma of the beans will fill the air and heighten the anticipation of a feast for later.

As we prepare for the sacred pause of Holy Week in the midst of coronavirus, we will encounter a layered waiting for resurrection. May the waiting bring new life and may the hope of the feast to come sustain us in the waiting.


What’s prayer got to do with it?

I’ve been praying a lot lately. Which is saying something for someone who prayed a lot already.

So I have been praying a lot, a lot.

Just today, I will participate, before the end of day, in 5 prayer services online, and that doesn’t include the praying I will do off camera.

Coronavirus. Relationships. New work. New school. Are the kids doing ok? Am I doing ok? Are we going to be ok? Are the people I love ok?

It’s enough for a panic attack, or a complete shut down, or even a rant gone viral in a grocery store. Which is why I pray [among other things that keep me sane.]

But still. We are all navigating big stuff. It might just make you wonder, what does prayer have to do with any of it? Does prayer touch any of it in a way that matters? What does prayer have to do with it? With any of it?

Saint Tina of “What’s Love Got To Do With It”- I’ve had this song in my head for days now.

Sometimes I wish that prayer worked like a gum-ball machine. Prayer goes in and out pops the answer. We can easily get caught up in wishing that prayer had clearly defined and tangible responses…wouldn’t life be easier that way?

But of course, that isn’t how prayer works. In fact, that isn’t even what prayer does.

Prayer isn’t something you do to manipulate a reaction or response. Prayer isn’t an Amazon wishlist where you can leave a link for God to fulfill and ship in 2 days.

Prayer is instead something that transforms us. We are the thing that prayer “accomplishes”, and ultimately, I don’t think I would want it to be anything less than that.

What happens when I try to do God’s job.

If prayer were a wishing well or a genie lamp…how much we would limit God’s response to us. God could easily become a fulfillment center and we would get nothing more than what our minuscule imaginations could desire; what we think is best [which has an epic failure rate if you think about it].

Instead, prayer is a vehicle for transformation. It shapes us; it moves us; it makes us rather than being something that we make.

God is so much bigger than us, bigger than our desires, and bigger than what we could ever dream up for ourselves. So when you pray, listen. Listen. Listen to God. You might just be formed into who God made you to be: beautiful and blessed. And odds are, you will feel better about everything you have been carrying with you ❤️

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

These are some of the last words spoken by Jesus to his disciples before he is crucified. The one who is about to die, comforting those left behind.

And this is not unique to Jesus. I have been privileged to be at the side of more than a few death beds. So often, the one who is about to take their last breath, uses it to comfort those who will continue that routine intake of breath.

Don’t worry. It will be ok. I will be fine; you will be fine. Do not let your heart be troubled.

All of these words of comfort speak the same thing: I love you.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you out myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

John 14: 3

I remember when each of my children were born. I was so lucky in that they were mostly uncomplicated births. Immediately after being born, they were placed upon my chest, and I, to borrow from Jesus, took them to myself. I held, and loved, and cried, and felt my already expanded heart explode into a million pieces.

I can easily imagine God in this way, taking us to Godself. Holding, loving, tears of joy and wonder being shed, as each of us are born and as each of us return back to God.

“Held in Love” by Elaine Almond

This is my comfort, as I pray for those who, in these days, are dying without family to surround them. That they are not alone, but that they are held firmly upon the chest of Jesus, who waits to take them to himself. And that Jesus, whispers over and over to them, “Do not let your heart be troubled.”

Let’s do the Time Warp again….

To be honest- I don’t know my days. Not that this is a surprise to anyone who watches Pop-up Prayer, where I prove daily that I can’t seem to hold the day of the week in my mind.

But these coronavirus days have me all over the place. Not only can I not quite tell if I am in a Monday or a Thursday, but my sense of time is completely messed up as well. When each day is both a blink and an eternity, can the clock or calendar quite be trusted?

So I will say, I think this all started in early to mid march- when the migration home started. I know that March 15th was our last public worship, and that the 8th was our last Sunday Eucharist. And my children’s last day of school at school was the 13th, making March 2020 the longest month of my life (though rumor has it April showed up, though this won’t be confirmed until I hit publish).

And so, in both an exercise to both fill time and capture it, here comes the blog. Come for the time stamp, stay for the stories.

From The Rocky Horror Picture Show opening sequence

A prayer for the tired

Sleep is the best meditation- Dali Lama

Oh God of Rest, pillow my dreams as I rest my eyes from reality. Drape upon me the weight of slumber, heavy in my bones and deep in my muscle; relax my mind and shutter my lids.

Dog ear this day, to be picked up again tomorrow. For now, creator of stars and midnight shades of black, now is time for sleep.


“be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”

I recently posted on Facebook a simple sentence.

“I’ll marry you AND bake your cake.”

This was in response to, of course, the big question about whether or not Jesus loves cake.

And while I’m happy to talk about just how much Jesus loves cake, I was struck by one of the comments made.

“Ok so how do we make more of your kind and get rid of all those other evil religious types? Lol.”

What followed was a brief but great exchange (I blacked out the poster’s name only to respect that these comments were posted on Facebook and should remain there. Also, please note my typo in our exchange and bask in my humanity! Lastly, I really respect folks who are willing to have dialog and go deeper in vulnerable spaces life Facebook, where everyone can see what you write- I have gratitude for this person and the conversation we shared in a public space.)


The world would be a much better place if we talked more to people face to face. And I know I am better priest, mother, wife, friend, and human when I spend time with people with whom I have significant differences. And, because I have spent time with “these people” they cease to be “these people” and they become God’s people. And #Godspeoplearemypeople is always true in my heart, even if it can be difficult in my head. God’s people are my people.

“Relationship building is important now more than ever” to quote myself (and I’m sure many other people who have figured this out). “Meet face to face, break bread together, share more than what it is that you believe in.” And I’ll add here, “share who you are and love who they are: beloved children of God.”

To quote Henri-Frederic Amiel

“Life is short. We don’t have much time to gladden the hearts of those who walk this way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind.”

The Why and How of God’s love

If you were lucky, you caught the interview of Yo-Yo Ma by Krista Tippett.  You’re still lucky because here is a link.

I listened to this on my way to supply for a neighboring church while their priest was on vacation.

I had to scrap my original sermon and go with this [note, I don’t preach from manuscripts, so this has been paired down for blogging purposes].

“Yo-Yo Ma was born to Chinese parents in Paris.  He moved to the US as a young child.  His mother was Protestant and his dad Buddhist-ish .  Yo-yo says this made him, “basically Episcopalian.”  Given the cultural, language and religious mix of his younger years, he said that when he grew up he wanted to be “One who Understands.”

This struck a chord with me, as aren’t we all desiring to be “one who understands”?

Why are we here. Why do people do what they do, why do we do what we do and why does God do what God does.  Why, why, why to grasp further understanding.

Sadly for Yo-yo Ma and for us, the why is ever elusive. And personally, the moment it stops being fun to ponder, it becomes a waste of time.  Honestly.  I’m not all that interested in the why.


I am, however, deeply interested in the how. How are we to be? How are we to live?



It was wonderful to ponder this on a foggy early Sunday morning drive. Especially in light of the Gospel for that Sunday: the parable of the prodigal son.

Both sons, older and younger, were firmly entrenched in the why. Why are we here if not for our own pleasure? lives the younger son. Why forgive those who have done wrong? Believes the older.

But the father lives in the how. How to live? In compassion and love. How to love? With abandon, knowing that compassion and love are never depleted when they are employed; it is through exercising compassion and love that they abound and grow.

And I think this is true of God’s love.  God’s love is infinite.  There isn’t just so much of it, so you better be on your best behavior so you get some.

Rather, God’s love knows no ceasing.  And I think that one (one!) way IMG_4011 [196089]that we experience the love of God is by exercising the compassion and love we contain within ourselves. Which is hard.

Yes. Loving is hard. It’s hard in marriage, in friendship, in domestic and international political relationships, and even in the church.

And because loving is so difficult between us humans, it can be difficult to trust that God can love so easily. That God is like the father in the parable, who waits day after day to catch a glimpse of us at the horizon. Who runs to meet us. Who gathers us in God’s embrace before we can even open out mouth to ask for God’s love.

Perhaps it is time to let go of the why and time to start experiencing the how.

Because in our efforts to share with others compassion and love, I believe we will more easily experience and trust the love of that God of ours.


Vegas, baby!

I just got back from a weekend in Las Vegas.

I have 2 older sisters, and the middle one, Sara, was having a milestone birthday (no numbers Sara!) and wanted to do something fun. So a sisters+spouses Vegas trip was planned practically a year in advance: tickets were purchased, hotels were booked, and sitters for 5 kids in three states were arranged (thanks sitters!)

As the trip got closer I realized that we planned our trip during Lent.  And it was remarked to me: “Vegas during Lent should be interesting.”

And that really got me thinking.  What would it be like to go to “Sin City” during the season of Lent?


Look how crazy we were! The wildest we got on the Strip was with Bob and Stuart the Minions.

This was my first time going to Vegas, but if I had to guess, I would say that going during Lent is like going any other time of the liturgical year.

See, Vegas is an illusion. It is no more of a sin city than New York or Chicago or Houston. Certainly no more of a sin city than Cypress and only slightly more expensive.

Vegas is certainly flamboyant. And flashy. But “Sin City”?

There isn’t anything happening in Vegas that doesn’t happen everywhere else. Addiction. Prostitution. Excess upon excess. Despite the slogan, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, it’s all so out in the open there. Honestly, the secrecy and shame that exists beyond the Vegas zip code is more scary. We snub our noses at Vegas when we buy more food than we can eat and live in houses that are bigger than we need. I’m not saying that Vegas- and what happens there- is better than where we call home. I’m just saying it isn’t worse.

So Vegas in Lent? Not all that different than where I live to tell the truth.

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Making Lent Count

Lent is upon us and you good and faithful ones are posting your Lenten observances all over Facebook.

And I love this.

I love that my friends and families are being so public with their relationship with God and the church! And I love that you allow people to walk that journey with you- and that perhaps you may be inspired by the devotion of someone you know.

But I have to wonder, how much does your Lenten devotion nourish your spiritual life? Are you really wishing for God to work something new in you, or is it the same ol’ same ol’ Lenten practice?

Or to pose it this way: Is what you are giving up or taking on actually doing anything in your life?

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At St. Mary’s we are using a program out of England called 40Acts of Generosity to guide us in Lent.  It gives you prompts each day to dive into generosity- in sharing with others at the expense of yourself- as a way of growing closer to God and your community.  And each morning you are given three options to choose from: easy, medium and hard.


Exploring Lent through a lens of generosity and inconvenience, I am beginning to wonder if our Lenten disciplines have been set on easy for too long. Maybe it’s time for us to explore a medium or even hard route.

So for those of you giving up chocolate…maybe a way to dig in deeper would be to give chocolate to someone each day? Not just abstain yourself, but give with joy that which causes you to be tempted.

For those of you adding on giving up plastic water bottles for Lent…maybe also spend time each week picking up the littered bottles and trash that is all around us?

Ask yourself this: am I really challenging myself? Does this really stretch me? Does this practice really allow for God to change me?

Maybe giving up chocolate alone does.  But if it doesn’t, I can’t encourage you enough to be open to pushing yourself into a true place of temptation and challenge.

Performing for Jesus


Addison crying as she walked to her spot on the stage

It’s that time of the year again! School Christmas programs and pageants are all over the place, and the littlest among us are called (or pulled) up on stage to share with us the Joy of the season! And having just sat through my first Christmas program for my daughter Addison, I have been thinking about these displays of pageantry and song quite a bit.  And so I offer these few points of reflection as we as a church get ready for Christmas and Epiphany Pageants:

  1. Why are we doing this?  If it’s just to show mom and dad that their kids have learned some songs or if it is to display, “oh how cute!” these little ones are, then we should stop doing it- there is no liturgical point and the pageants don’t need to take place during church. However, if it is to open the eyes of the little ones and us bigger ones (yep, we are the bigger ones) to a new way of telling a familiar story or if it is used as an opportunity to allow the little ones to step into the role of teacher and leader- then yes please!
  2. What is our end goal?  I ask this question as both a parent and a priest.  What is our end goal of inviting the kids to partake in a few moments of “otherness” during a worship service?  Because kids don’t get that it is a rare moment and a “one time a year” thing in which they get to dress up like a sheep and bleet their little lungs out.  But if one of the end goals is to teach children who are made in God’s Image that they too belong in the church just as they are (or as a sheep) then I think we have to prepare ourselves for the less cute times….like in Lent during the prayer for Humble Access when that little one is still a sheep.  If it’s ok for a kid to be a kid during the pageant then it has to be ok for a kid to be a kid the rest of the liturgical year too. It sends unclear messages to children (and honestly, to their parents too) to only be “a little bit welcome” in church.  So go big and allow kids to be welcome in worship all of the time, not just when it’s cute.
  3. What can we learn? If we think that the only ones who can learn from a pageant is the kids, then we should probably stop doing them.  But if we can open ourselves to see beyond the cuteness and charm to what is being given to us by these young disciples, then we just might be transformed by the powerful message they give.  Not just the Christmas Story.  But the gift that comes from the joy and wonder from the young as they experience in new ways a story that isn’t old and familiar yet.  The gift that comes from wanting to share this new story and to share it abundantly.  The gift that comes from knowing without a doubt that they are loved by God. What a gift they offer us if we are willing to take it.


Addison Churchwell, age 3 Who said after her school Christmas Program, “That was fun!”


Lastly, I offer this.  Let them cry if they want.  Let them leave and come sit on your lap.  Let them be themselves- some will want to sing and perform and others wont.  Let them be them. Mine happens to like to stand on the stage and cry. What a great way to learn that perfection is unobtainable!


One thing we can always learn, is that when it comes to being a kid in church, there is no right or wrong way to be a person made and loved by God.