Beyond the gathering

This is a little bit about me, Amy, and the spirituality that I bring to spiritual direction and my life.

I am ordained in a small protestant sect in the Christian tradition. My life has been one where service to neighbor, simplicity, and peacemaking were the central focus of worship and my church education. And it was good. The love of God and Jesus were sort of assumed, in order to get to the message of the gospels. A flip to most evangelical experiences where Jesus is exalted above his teachings. I'm glad for my upbringing. 

12 years in my first professional position had me in the role of pastor. I teamed with my husband and we split the work of a single pastorate into the two of us, sharing parenting at the same time. A perfect equation of life and vocation for us. 12 beautiful years of growing into my gifts and identity.

For the next 13 years, my family attended a church that had other pastors, because we had moved cities and I had begun work in a seminary. During those 13 years, I was the board chair 3 times, a deacon, worship leader, occasional preacher, sunday school teacher.

When the pastor left, and the congregation proclaimed that they'll carry on without a pastor (the numbers had diminished to about 12...but that is an entirely different story)...the writing on the wall was that I would have my hands full of church function and leadership. The voices saying "we'll do it ourselves" also were saying "But don't ask me for regular leadership because I have other things going on." I needed to leave this beloved gathering because it was not my call to be the de facto pastor.

When the congregation finally reached the painful point of laying the congregation down (closing the doors) in the fall of 2017, I had to do something with my ordination credential or lose it. I moved it to a progressive, open and affirming, creation caring, interfaith engaging congregatoin in Fort Wayne. I preach there twice a year. I attend only when I preach. But it is my church. My faith gathering.

Some folks view my lack of regular attendance at church as a loss. A point of shame or giving in to cultural trends. 

But really, the churches I have been a part of have simply done their job well. If the job of the church is to connect people with God/Source/the Sacred.....then I'm a graduate.

Psalm 139 is a cry of frustration by the psalmist who is gearing up to a confession of hating their enemy so much they wanted them dead. We know it as a comforting piece of poetics as it is used in funerals: there is no place we can go where God is not.

But really, there is no place we can go where God is not. To my joy and to my chagrin. Not a single place out there is the cosmos, or the immediacy of my lush backyard, or within the interior sanctum of my soul. God is there.

And this is my church now.

My spirituality is wide and broad and deep I have no ability to reach the furthest reach. Everyday I explore the nuance of what I thought I knew as a boundary to understand it now as a portal to something more. Everyday I swim in the warm waters, the turbulent waters, the salty tear infused waters of the Sacred. I float, I bob, I sink.

This means that my understanding of spirituality is broader than any lineage or faith heritaage. The Church of the Brethren has done its job so well that I'm in that space beyond its limited boundaries of polity and faith statements...exactly where those things were pointing.


I come back, time to time, to the material world of church and practicality. It is no longer a place for me to stay, but certainly, it is a place for me to dip my toes back here in the waters of the local beach. The four-part singing of hymns that sing of God's love are deep in my marrow. The peace songs sung on grass or around camp fires strum in my blood. The deep care of community in times of trauma, when you put aside all messy human feelings to care for one another is like a breath.

This allows me to be filled with gratitude. I can meet you where you are with whole hearted belief in your path. Becauses there is no place we can go, no place we can be where God is not. 

Peace to you.

Honking our pain into the drive-thru

There is a meme on facebook, a video of a Mom in her car telling a story. She was in a coffee drive through, and at the same time the car ahead of her moved forward, she bent down and reached back to pick up a toy her young daughter had dropped. In that moment of mothering, the car behind her began to honk, and the driver was yelling and gesticulating angrily. Apparently, our storytelling Mom hadn't moved forward in a way that made sense to the car behind.


The mother in the video is funny. And real. She goes on to say that she was aware of the anger in the person behind her, and she new going back to talk to the person would be awkward. So instead, she just pulled up to the window and paid for the coffee of the person behind her. A kind act. An act of seeing. She drove off. The two women didn't get out and exchange phone numbers becoming besties. There was no opportunity for the mom to be thanked or recognized. Her message to us watching this video was to be compassionate to those who are acting in alarming ways, because we just don't know the day, the life, the moment they are having.


As a lifelong participant in the christian church, I have been conditioned to identify with the woman making the video. To be the one who buys the coffee for the rude person. To be the one who offers compassion or grace or care. I'm glad for that upbringing which is steeped in my bones.


But today, I'm feeling with the woman in the rear car. The one who is honking, yelling, making gestures of anger....because someone didn't inch forward soon enough.


Are you her? Are you angry? Angry enough to honk and yell?


Life piles shit upon us, sometimes at speeds so swift that we cannot catch up. Cannot take a breath. Cannot form the words. We feel the victim, the loser, the wounded. We want to be noticed in our pain.


We want to be noticed in our pain.


So we honk. Or we over care in hopes that people will give to us the way we are giving to them. Or we yell and angrily raise a fist....with an unspoken hope that someone will put a slowing hand on our shoulder and say "Hey, what is going on?"...because without breath, without words, we can't say it to ourselves.


We can get so caught in fear of bills unpaid, or the violence of a relationship, or the pain of being overlooked, or the worry of our bodies falling aparat.....and we don't have the words to say help.


Our outburst sound one way.

Our posture and hand gestures look one way.

Our words express something one way.


But we really are meaning something another way.


We mean to say help.


Help me.


I think that if you know someone who is honking for help, help them. Connect them to a spiritual director or a counselor or a massage therapist. Do it right there with them. All you have to say is "Here, let's get you connected. I'll do it for you." Whip that phone out and make an appointment for them.


Sometimes, just making the appointment is like a balm to the bruise.


If you have enough in you that you are not honking in the drive through but are pounding the steering wheel instead...directing your anger at yourself....make the appointment. Pay for someone to listen to you with skill and total attentiveness. Once you've regained a bit of equilibrium, call a friend and let them listen in to your pain too. They'll want to. You're worth it.


Spiritual Direction is not counseling, but it is that balm, that relief, that steam valve that needs to be opened for the pent up toxic energy to hiss out from within. It is help.

What a Leap Feels Like



Real Good.


When in discernment.....

  • Should I stay in this job?
  • What if I went back to school?
  • Is it time to launch my own biz?
  • Is this relationship for the long run?
  • How do I find my way back to myself?

Discernment is different than making a choice. It is a common term in the language of theology and spirituality. Why? Because the church/temple/mosque have been the traditional places of spiritual connection with the Sacred. 

The world is moving out of the holy walls, into the streets and into common and shared spaces. We are awakening to the reality that the Sacred dwells everywhere!  The advantage of bringing out spirituality into the fold of a ready made religious community is that there are experts (I would hope) who stand ready to guide you. Women and men who have prepared deeply to guide your heart and holy connections with profound care and confidence. 

But we're the DIY generation (whatever your age). So we read blogs, books, go on retreat. We are cobbling together belief systems that are unique to us, like a smorgasboard where you can have 3 shrimp or all the shrimp, veggies or leg of lamb. Whatever calls to you. We have access at our spirit-tips to the traditions and writings of the Sufis, Mennonites, Mystics, Humanist Wisdom, nature, one another.


I think this is amazing.

And then along comes a moment when we have filled out plate of experiences, rituals, and influences, and we realize it is time to do something with it all. It is time to craft our life. The best of any belief system or sacred experience is that we will be led back to ourselves. Our essential selves. Our beings at soul level, deep within, the part of us that *pings* with a tone that rings true when we meet another being or fantastic phrasing of wisdom that matches, always truth.

Decision making is made at the level of head or gut.

Discernment incorporates the head, heart, spirit, body. It is a quad that creates something else altogether when we seek the whole. The wisdom that flows to us comes from mystery, from the ineffable, from the outer that is actually the inner.

What then happens when it is time to take a leap?

We work it through in our own minds. Over and over and over we chew on it, we sleep with it, we space out with it. We might go to a trusted friend with it. Our first instincts take us close, feeling the possibility in our gut (our glorious guts which are so freakin' smart). As we take it to our outer spaces we can begin to see the impact and implications. Some may be dire. We might not know where the next paycheck will come from. We may walk away from a marriage. We may put on yoga pants before we lost that 30 pounds we've convinced ourselves we must do in order to do the next thing.

Discernment takes in all the implications. We go in with eyes wide open. We can imagine back up plans like a friend's couch so we know we won't be homeless. We test and check and imagine. This is the sweet window. If you are someone who taps into intuition of heart or tarot or the pendulumn you can just ask "When is the most auspicious time for me to make this leap?" And trust the answer.

The sweet window allows us to leave, move, act, change with integrity. It is sweet because it is not led by fear but but bravery and vision. It is so important to be in touch with your sweet window. To know its opening and then its closing.

But I've also seen courageous women take HUGE LEAPS with their kids at their sides. I've witnessed and supported women experiencing domestic violence who had no back up plan or resources LEAP and LEAVE because their lives depended on it. I've seen grad students doggedly persist to get the job they wanted when they were the least experienced, AND GET THE JOB. Everyday, people walk into work and just KNOW that this faint day of leaving has arrived in full force and they put their keys on the desk and their belongings in boxes. It doesn't just happen in movies. Some Leaps land in hard places where the scrabble up is hard and long, but so much better than if they had stayed.

I've seen many people stay past that sweet window. And it isn't pretty. If we miss the moment of the Leap Taking, it almost takes us into a parallel universe, where we are back at square zero but with all the knowledge of why we needed to leave. Depression, Disgruntlement, Disappointment start to chip away at our character. They start to dismantle our well being and all that we were building toward.

I almost hit this point in my recent Leap, not out of fear, but because I so deeply loved my job and the mission of it. Everyday I've had to hold myself back, to disentangle, to say inside my head (It is no longer my job it is no longer my job), I've had to breathe deeply and let it go, let it go. Psychologically I've had to move myself along from full attachment and identification with the role, to that of part time, and now as trainer. Soon, it will be done. 

Let's talk about that psychological and energetic space: It is not only fun, but it is imperative. We must be able to see ourselves in the new role. We must be able to feel who we will be Post LEAP while till in the Pre LEAP. It matters how you introduce yourself. It matters how you dress. It matters how you use any free time. We are shifting our energetic space to a new vibrational match. This is best done with a coach because it will look like imaginal arrogance to anyone else. I must see myself, feel myself as the CEO, as the college graduate, as the single parent free from a violent partner, as the badass entrepreneur who is ready to roll. See it and feel it. Be it.

I don't want to hear the backlash from anyone saying this is unrealistic. I would bet anyone who scoffs at the process of Leap Taking....has never taken a Leap. Not everyone who is rising or at the top has taken Leaps. Some have moved in those places because of familial privilege and a leg up. Not a bad way to go, but they have nothing to say to someone taking a Leap. However, when we get scoffers, the question I want to ask them is "What Leap are you dying to take?" Chances are, they are living a life that has been given to them but is not them. Oh, how important our own authentic living is for the movement of the whole. Jealousy is often an alarm going off inside of us that we are ready for a change.

If you are at that place....that square zero again because the Leap seems too scary....then let's switch gears. Simple really.


  • Do I remain in my misery, or
  • Do I go where my heart, head, spirit, body are aiming me toward

Self chosen misery is a dark place. We can lose friends. We lose self respect. We lose vision. And worse, we might even lose that job or marriage or friendship or self investment but it won't be on our own terms. It will be decided for us.

Goodness, me. I want to work with you to find that sweet window to take your Leap. I will encourage you all the way, helping you to see your blind spots, the unimagined, the back up plan. It isn't easy work, OMG, is it a bouquet of flowers sitting on your desk. And while it is easy for me, the coach and spiritual director, to say all of this to you (because let's face it, it is YOU who will be doing the leaping) assured that I have Leaped into the unknown and I know. I know.


With Loving Vision,


Ah, Vacation

Last week, the hubz and I took a little vacation. Half just a staycay in our own beloved space, and half on a zippy road trip to Montgomery Alabama. That part was more of a pilgrimage than a vacation, as our destination was the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (aka Lynching Memorial). Kurt and I road trip well, and we had our little Alfie along.


There comes a conversation that splinters out of control. First it begins with a soft opening about something/anything....then a tiny long held opinion pops out, and soon we are off to the races of frustration, terrible listening, accusatory thoughts, steaming and stewing.

Kurt and I are experts at this, with 30 years to perfect the process. We've also become even better at pulling it back into the real reality of what is going on, siphoning off the boiling emotion that was just waiting for a topic...any let loose. We are deliberate about apologies and honestly owning what got out of control and then letting the conversation take its truer course or to let it drop because it was just pent up accumulated emotional junk.

Vacations bring this out in all of us. On the way to the beach, the mountains, the museums, a retreat...we've had to plan ahead at work and at home, drop the dog off or make doggie daycare arrangements, wash clothes, pack things up, make picnics or road trip meals, worry about the costs for everything and get out the door into car, train, plane.

And then we sit and sigh.

This sighing lets loose that backlog of hurts, unfinished issues, deeper wounds begging to be dealt with. 

Some of these are decades old and have been tapping us on the shoulder for attention for a long time. Others are very real in the now issues to work through. During the sighing and letting loose of vacation, we lose the distractions of life that have kept these nagging, blistering, boiling things at bay.

But I'm on vacation! I don't want to bother with this! Nice thought, but vacation is a great time to notice what is going on inside. Stay in vacation mode, and be curious. Treat your outbursts like works of art on display, where you wander up close, then back up, then look at how they fit in with other things hanging beside them. And then ask yourself;

"Why did I just say that?"

"What was that outburst all about?"

"Is this thing really what is bothering me?"

"What is really going on here?"

What holy space you are creating for yourself? Be curious about your emotions which are always speaking to you for your growth. Always. They offer information about what is taking place inside. It is a popular thing to talk about self care and frame that as hot baths, glasses of wine, golf, slow walks. And yes! those are wonderful things. But the truest self care comes in paying attention to what our emotions, bodies and spirits are sharing with us. Our minds want to say "It is about the bathroom renovation that isn't going well." But our emotions whisper "I'm ready to let go of this past hurt but I don't know how." Our minds want to say "Focus on how your partner leaves the vacation dinner table without offering to wash dishes." But our bodies says "My shoulders are always tight from feeling ignored and disrespected, like when I was 5 and my parents were arguing all the time and they would say "not now" when I tried to distract them."

Pay attention to yourself. Love yourself. Accept what comes up. Come to terms with the childhood wounds or soul wounds that are very real, but can only be met and healed by yourself. With help.

So, take a walk to the end of the pier, or put your feet up on the railing of the deck, or go for a cup of mocha on your own and give me a call. We'll talk about what is rising.

I'm always listening.



little trees

My hubz (Kurt) and I live in our little city of 38,000, in a residential area that we lovingly describe as upscale sketch. It is a mix of home owners and renters, both of whom defy definition. Some lovely historic homes and duplexes kept to a decent standard, amidst children playing in the one way street and the weekly trash cans left at the curb, in spite of the city ordinance to tuck them back on your property 24 hours after trash pick up. Like little green sentinels lining the sidewalk. Our home is the historic home, the first one built in hundreds of acres back in 1982. It is a large lot, but it is a city lot nonetheless. And we love it here. We love the sound of the kids playing, bouncing basketballs, trumpet and drum practice, all manner of dogs barking, a few wandering neighborhood cats. 

Our lot is surrounded by lush green. Some would call it overgrown and unsightly. Perhaps it is. But we are dismayed by the ever decreasing wildness in a land of manicured lawns. It is also awe-striking to see what will pop up if allowed some room. Herbs for medicine and tea grow spontaneously (good to have an acupuncturist/herbalist in the family).

We like to let our yard grow. The neighbor across the road, our friend C, has been mowing the lawn of this house through several owners, so we decided to keep up the tradition. He isn't able to get to it as frequently as most people like, and that is fine with us. 


Right now, there are trees growing in the back yard. I asked Kurt what they were and he said, "Well, they are persimmon trees." WHAT????!!!!????? I knew we had 5 persimmon trees on the property that were full grown but didn't know these little seedlings were persimmon.

Handy, eh?

Persimmons are a native tree in Indiana. So am I. Persimmon trees need a male and female tree to germinate and only the female trees produce fruit. The fruit is best after a freeze, but you may lose all the ripe ones that have fallen if you wait. So, don't wait. Put your white persimmon catching sheets on the ground and pick them up daily. One of the easiest fruits to harvest, using this method. 

I love the persimmon tree. So much rich metaphor in its stately reality. From the balance of yin/yang needed to bring new life, to the perfect timing of readiness, to the way they continue to populate and grow if given a chance.

We are this. We, humans, need a balance of the masculine/feminine in each of us to mature into well-formed beings. It is a lifelong task and so richly sweet in the rewards. 

It is true that the next time C mows the lawn, those little trees will be shaved off, but not without depositing little persimmon-ness into the soil. So we give thanks to the Persimmon. We give thanks to the insects that flicker at night, the two snakes that keep rodents from the house. We give thanks for the birds that bring seeds from many places and plant them for our later discovery. We give thanks for the ability to share this bit of urban wild-craft and it's healthy vitality with all who come here seeking healing. We are but stewards, and seek to be worthy of that role.

To your planting, branching out and ripening,



We interrupt our regularly scheduled......

Hapax is changing. You can surely tell by the can't-miss-it Persimmon Studio logo. I've been hinting at it for some time, and making some bolder statements recently.

Here's the happening......

Hapax Spiritual Direction has been redesigned into Persimmon Studio. What began with an unpronounceable name, a name that is obscure but layered with meaning, and the birthing of a new practice.....has grown exponentially over 6 years to become a broader range of services and founder's purpose.

So, friggin' exciting.

Spiritual Direction remains the core and primary offering that I bring to my beloved clients. The creating of sacred space for deep listening remains the principal focus as clients sit in the blue chair or we meet voice to voice over phone/zoom. I am listening so that you can listen. I am witnessing YOU so that YOU can witness you.  This leads us to personal formation, spiritual connection, human consciousness.

On May 15, I transition from full time at Bethany Theological Seminary, to part time, allowing an increase in the Persimmon plan: mornings will be for long health walks and added morning sessions, Mondays will be a day off to be with my hard-working husband.

I am committed to a smooth and sacred transition in student development for Bethany Theological Seminary. I love Bethany and her mission and am invested in a thorough handoff to the next director of student development. Once this hiring and training time has taken place, likely in the summer, I will move to the full Persimmon plan.

What is the Persimmon plan? It is a holistic plan for balance and well-being. It is professional and personal.

  • 23 client sessions for you to choose from each week
  • morning sessions
  • professional growth to ensure I continue to offer YOU my best and growing self
  • writing projects: 1) an e-book for the plush pilgrim who wants to walk the Camino de Santiago, 2) a co-written book with Bennett on body and life poetics, 3) a yet-to-be-named community piece that celebrates the way Richmond spaces bring conversations and growth, photos by Turner
  • continued development of my cosmic woo woo offering: soul realignment
  • morning health walks of significant length
  • home-cooking!
  • creating a purposeful and  minimalist lifestyle
  • coordinated schedules with Kurt/Whitewater Acupuncture so that we actually see one another
  • Alfie time
  • regular visits with my 86 year old mother, who is a rock star and I don't want to miss her aging and sage-ing years, with the added joy of seeing my sister Cindy, who inspires my heart.

It is a BIG LEAP that will necessitate enormous changes in current habits and patterns born from a deeply loved office life, generous professional income, student and institutional focus. It is cliffside to cliffside, I expect the gap in between to make me airborne.

This leap requires my whole self.

I can't wait.

Love to all,






There are so many lists of what I need to improve upon this year! The old goats of weight loss, debt reduction, being nicer, eating healthy, walking more take up space time and time again, as I willfully choose to not actually meet them head-on.

And there are more interesting things out there anyway. Like, learning new ways to communicate better with the Hubz, learning to cook with an InstaPot, yoga and qigong practices.....

When they all sound and feel good, where do we begin?

  1. Begin with writing down all of your goals, hopes, intentions without censorship, justification, judgment. All of them. Have at it.
  2. Indicate which go together or are similar
  3. Prioritize in each of your categories
  4. Find the roots 1 or 2 goals/intentions that when focused on and carried out will begin a cascade effect toward shifting the others.

The root of it all.

I would venture from experience, so it's not so much a guess as it is an observation, that the very things we want to tackle, overcome, achieve, triumph over.....are symptoms rather than the root.

Let's take dandelions, for example. My grandfather would go around to each yellow head in the green, green yard and drop one drop of weed killer on each flower. He did not want a yard full of toxins, nor did he want this infesting nuisance. He would straighten, look over at the neighbor's yard and sigh "But I can't expect my neighbor to do the same thing." You have to remove dandelions from the root. Then it is gone. No bloom, no seed head, no propagation. There is always the hope that your best behavior will inspire those around you.

It is here that I must diverge to say that my husband knows the dandelion is the healthiest yard crop for us: from root, to leaves, to blossom. Don't eat the seeds, however.

To go after your goals and intentions, go for the root. likely our overspending, overeating, overindulging, overjudging, underloving, underboundaried, underachieving is set on narratives that are now rotting within us, waiting for a soul gardener to come along and dig out the extended mess, so the healthy roots can take over.

What are your narratives? They are likely the excuses you use to not do that which you desire to do or to become. The things we think, feel, tell ourselves are truth are most often lies that we have believed into truth.

  • My parents did not love me
  • I was told I was ugly my whole childhood
  • I won't amount to anything
  • I'm no good
  • I don't deserve it
  • Everything I do is ignored
  • I'm invisible
  • I will always be fat because I'm big boned
  • I'll always be poor

Ask yourself:

  • Is it true?
  • Why?
  • What happened?
  • Who said it to me? Why did I believe it?
  • What else was going on?
  • Why do I believe it still? What am I now doing to ensure it is a reality?
  • Is it happening now?

Be honest. Be brutal. Be vulnerable in your assessment.

Then get on with getting rid of the root, and planting a new root that is lifegiving and real. 

You own your life. No one else does. Believe it.




Self Care in the New Year

I am lucky to live in a small city that is full to the brim of the oil jar with amazing massage therapists. When I visit my own, she brings out all the tools: hot rocks. oil, warm towels, deep tissue massage, and foot massage for the back. A.Maz.Ing.

I've been getting massages once a month for 14 years. I did have to change that up to 6 weeks so I could afford the poo poo platter that my massage therapist offers. It is a provision of reliable, steady, expected, count-on-able self-care. 

It is the new year, and like it or not, we may find ourselves thinking about those resolutions, those best intentions, those visions of a new me, a new you, dancing in our heads. But action is more difficult. And because life is hard, we think about self-care. Wouldn't it be nice to work a reiki session, a massage, a pedi, a long walk into a semi-regular routine for our own well being?


Those lovely moments dissipate quickly if we have not done our truest self-care. And this is what I want to invite you into for 2018. A year of facing yourself.  The best self-care is taking care of the hardest things.

  • quitting a job that robs you of your best self
  • facing the death of a marriage
  • rewriting your old, no-more-of-use false narratives into works of art
  • facing my most unkind habits
  • mustering courage to ask for a raise, to ask someone out, to let loose a toxic friendship
  • to forgive ourselves, to forgive another
  • peel off the layers of shame and guilt
  • courageously live through what cannot be changed
  • become your truest self

This is self-care.

How do you go about starting such a vulnerable endeavor as facing your life? I am biased, but I would say go get a spiritual director. It isn't counseling because that likely isn't what you need. Unless it is, and then go get a great therapist. Spiritual direction is more about you finding you and then finding the Divine there too, than it is about exploring who God is. It is that. But don't get hung up on the God stuff. God does self-care and doesn't need us to ignore ourselves. Get hung up on the YOU stuff, and discover your own sacredness that is God's sacredness as well. 

What is it that you are most afraid to face?

         What is it that you know you'll have to deal with directly                sooner or later?

What would it look like to own the process instead of stumbling into bad process?

We, spiritual directors, are here to witness, nudge, guide, affirm, carefully caution, offer questions....all so that you can mature.

This is self-care.

I'm ready for your life.


One Another

Oh, we get all tangled up in our own sense of centric living. Me, me. me.

A while ago now, I pastored a fabulous congregation in Michigan, the Florence Church of the Brethren/Mennonite. An ongoing example of health in the midst of humanness. The times that they put aside personal need in order to care for the need of another made them stronger.

For example:

For about 8 of the 12 years our family was there, worship was planned monthly by the church members. Individuals, families or friends would group up or fly solo to create a theme, choose hymns, write liturgy and determine sermon or worship formats. Kurt and I often preached but we also had Oprah-type Q/As with the whole congregation. Some months we sang the old hymns. Some months we sang mostly new hymns. I was told by an older church matriarch who preferred the old hymns that she sang the new hymns that others liked because they sang the hymns she liked. That seemed fair to her.  Indeed, that was the holistic approach: less a chance to even the score and get "my" way by any one person, and more a taking of turns to express faith and thought and music in a shared and varied way. We were all in it together. Worship was good. Another time, they opened their homes, wallets, and time to a an instant. No meetings, no voting....just putting aside self to create a larger self. This family was integrated into the whole as we all looked after one another.

This is health.

At the Richmond Church of the Brethren, during our twice annual Love Feast, there was great desire to progress the experience forward by adding a third circle to the feetwashing ritual. Instead of just a men's circle and a women's circle, we added an all circle. I noted the first time we went this way that a very progressive woman who had been vocal about making this happen, chose to sit in the women's circle instead of meeting her own need because she didn't want our older women who were uncomfortable with the new set up to feel left behind. 

It seems now, in my beloved denomination, that the same people who cried out during adversarial discussions that our peace agency On Earth Peace, "does not meet my need" are now writing manifestoes and statements that are specific to exclude LGBTQIA members from welcome. Apparently, one's own need to be included and cared for is stronger than the need to meet that of another.


Honest to God, I do not know why those who are LGBTQIA exclusionists in the name of Scripture who profess to love Jesus do not lean more heavily on the gospels for how we should move. Jesus never ever once said, "Look to your own need". We like, and I have used it often, the metaphor of the airline teaching to place your own oxygen mask on before you take care of a child or older person next to you. The assumption of the secular airlines is that by putting your own oxygen mask on you will be able to take care of another. One instruction is not given without the other.

These current statements stop at their own masks.

Just the other day, I preached from Luke where the Pharisees whispered in the doorways questions as to why Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus wasn't just eating with them, he was calling them. They were his inner circle.

If you are part of the culture's inner circle, worried that by default the margins are encroaching upon your space, welcome it. Open your arms. Look to the care of another. See to the sin in your own eye (that is from Jesus) at the same time you are welcoming another. You cannot go wrong. You really can't.

Do I have an equal admonishment for those on the non-exclusionary end. Well, no I don't. The work of organizations like BMC (Brethren Mennonite Concerns) is founded on working for the other, continues to work that all may be welcomed. All. No exclusions.

If you are a follower of Jesus, and feel more comfortable condemning others and telling them how to behave, then you're focusing on the wrong stuff in the Gospels. You're missing the point.

I don't want you to miss the point. I don't want you to miss the salvation that is right here right now whenever we love. Greatest commandment? Love. Love God. Love Neighbor. Love Self.

The work of spiritual direction is to help those who do not love themselves or do not feel loved to find that love, that belonging, that sense of self that is 360 degrees and includes self, God, neighbor. All.

Let's look out for one another.




I have been a lucky one, when it comes to faith communities. Raised in a rural church as 4th generation church/family member, I knew what love was. I knew about the answers blowing in the wind, and about the overwhelming emotion that comes from doing a pencil rub over the name of a lost air force pilot on the Vietnam War Memorial, of a name of a church son. I was raised by many hands, corrected by many hands, loved by many. That church today still thrives and I find it such a beautiful testament to a people who have blended the best of the 1950s church and the church of today that can hold Zumba and Love Feast.

When I went to seminary I was part of a local CoB congregation that also was a thoughtful, caring congregation. And then the first congregation that Kurt and I served as pastors was a radical bunch of amazing change agents and very human beings. In all of these instances, the congregating was true to wanting to be together and wanting to craft lives that were just.

In moving to Richmond, we again joined a congregation that was thoughtful. A preacher who could move my soul deeply, and a young intern pastor who was wise and witty beyond his 21 years of age. We raised our boys in that environment and their foundation for belief and justice is solid.

That congregation closed a few weeks past. Lots of reasons. Kurt and I had already left, not out of turbulence or tension, but we were on the exploring end of faith and what "church" could mean and many remained in favor of what church has always meant. They bravely faced their end, true to love for God, Neighbor, Self.

For months now, I've been pondering becoming a congregational orphan for the first time in my life. An odd, neutral, liminal space to be for me. I no longer feel bound by geography but the congregations that are exploring beyond the boundaries of what church has been are in Olympia Washington and San Pedro California, and neither are set up for skyping a Hoosier into the service.

In that time of leaving our local congregation and this orphaning, I have been congregating with a small Buddhist Sangha here in Richmond. 5 of us, most nights. It is a house sangha where we chant, meditate, read and have darhma talk. I've learned so much from these wise and practiced Buddhists. And I've honed my own meditation abilities. This is to my liking. I do not bring in my deeply seated Christian beliefs because this is not an ecumenical venture. But it has been there.

I feel often like I am living a real life segment of Krista Tippet's ON BEING. These evenings for me have been embodied moments of what Richard Rohrer and company call perennial wisdom. A reminder that what we are all to be aiming for is the wisdom not the doctrine. That is fine, for my formative faith is not doctrine bound or centered. The Gospel of Jesus is twinned with the Heart Sutra and the chants for Happiness and Sorrowlessness.

Tonight, I heard the last 5 minutes of ON BEING which is usually winding down as I pull up to the house for the sangha. I am missing my Buddhist gathering, for we are on haitus due to 2/5 of us being in northern India for a semester. I meditate better when I am together in the sangha. I am better when I am with others.

This fall, I anticipate moving my denominational membership to a congregation in Fort Wayne where I preach from time to time. it is a church with walls (which I said I would never again be a part of....never say never), that brings such beauty and integrity to worship and study and welcome. They offer a radical welcome to all, engage in meaningful interfaith dialogs, and have a compelling witness of presence and vigil when there is a homicide in Fort Wayne. I will likely drive the 4 hour round trip to take part in some of those. But it is a new day for me, a new way to do church from a 2 hour distance. Maybe I'll beocme their Richmond annex. I anticipate the Spirit moving, as she always does.

Thank you to the congregations who know how to love, ask questions and raise children and young adults.

Thank you to the gatherings of all faiths that enter into the wisdom beyond the belief system itself.

Thank you to the people who go about life, day by day, living a gospel of love and justice because they have found a good news within themselves.

Thank you.


Peace & Joy,