being still in God's big world

Category: 2013 (Page 1 of 3)

We will see stars

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

There is something about darkness that is frightening. When it is dark and our sight is obscured, our minds begin painting pictures to make up the difference. Suddenly what was in daylight the woods around our home becomes a dangerous wilderness. What felt safe and secure becomes a frightening possibility of fearful circumstance. As our days grow shorter, our experience of the darkness takes over more of our day and can overwhelm us. It is in the midst of this space where our vision is robbed that our imagination takes over and gives way to both make-believe and memory.
This time of year calls forward memories for all of us. Some of those memories are filled with laughter and family, colors and light. Some of those memories are filled with tears or pain, fear or sorrow. For many of us, we have memories of both sorts that somehow come forward and swirl together into a string of interconnected emotions that become difficult to disentangle. The memories become a weight we carry with us as we try desperately to focus on the light and the joy we are told we are supposed to feel.
But whoever said a call to remembrance is always a joyful experience? The things we remember most clearly are the heights and the depths. We remember where we were when President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were shot. We remember what we were doing when the challenger exploded and the twin towers came down. We remember what it was like to hear someone say, “I love you” for the first time. We remember the mirth we felt when we heard that family close to us was expecting a child and we remember the fear and anger that bubbled up when that same child was diagnosed with a painful illness. The call to remembrance isn’t a call to a specific emotion – it is a call to honor the experiences that comprise our existence.
The prologue to the Gospel of John, which we heard this evening, tells the story of remembrance. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Like Paul Harvey used to expound in his radio program – We have the luxury of knowing the rest of the story. The Word of God, that spoke the earth into being and was proclaimed by the prophets, became flesh in the person of Jesus for whom we wait. That same Word that was and is a light that darkness cannot overcome became a human being who instructed his followers to “do thisin remembrance of me.” Jesus, for whom we wait, the light in the darkness, was a holder of memory and instructed his people to become holders of memory as well.
When we re-member those whom we have loved and lost, Christmases past, health that is now illusive, the life we thought we’d be living, our fears and anxieties, – we are putting ourselves back together in a form of honest and active waiting. This active waiting can be painful and exhausting, but it pays homage to all of the different parts that make us who we are. Tonight, we are calling forward the parts of our lives that are vital piece of the puzzle that makes us whole. Who we are today – right this moment – is because of who we have been, what we have experienced, the people who have crossed our paths, and the hope for what is to come. Friends, we cannot dance in the joy of Easter morning without first walking through the painful darkness of Good Friday.
So whatever feelings you bring here tonight – whatever fear you might have of letting those emotions take up space in your being – know that you, all of you, are welcome here. Do not fear the darkness within your own mind, because there is a light that cannot be overcome no matter how dark it gets. Do not shove these wonderful and terrible feelings aside because they are the reminder that you are here, alive and human, right now. God’s Grace is big enough to hold all that you bring here tonight – and more. If you cannot feel that grace and love I encourage you to make that your prayer this night – or just trust me when I tell you, because I know this to be true. God’s Grace and Love are freely flowing through God’s own Holy Spirit, encircling you even as we speak. Allow yourself to feel and know that all of those feelings are acceptable.
Sometimes this Advent journey of waiting and counting down can feel just as perilous as a walk into the depth of the woods in the dark of night. We can’t avoid the emotions that present themselves but we can remember to look up while we march onward – if we look up we will eventually see the most brilliant stars. 

Cocoa with God

Sermon for the second Wednesday in Advent

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30

I’ve often heard the expression that something is as refreshing as a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day – but I would challenge those southerners that there is actually nothing more refreshing than a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. We’ve all felt that chill – those bone cold days when the snow doesn’t seem to end and just as we finish shoveling it is time to start again. Sometimes, as beautiful as a fresh winter’s snow can be it is despairing as well. Walking through Advent’s journey of darkness heading towards light in the winter, therefore, seems fitting.
This image of shoveling to exhaustion also strikes me because Advent seems also to be a season when we decide to become superhuman, and to take on more tasks than are possible to complete. We have shopping lists several miles long, we attend parties and gatherings with friends and family, we decorate our homes, we donate our time and our money, we try to do-do-do because this is the season of giving. But, as my friend Ginny likes to point out – we are human-beings not human-doings. And I think that is what Jesus is highlighting in this invitation to “be.”
In this passage from Matthew we are hearing Jesus as he instructs his followers who are weary and burdened as Israelites who are tired of the legalistic ways of the Pharisees and Sadducees. The people are at their breaking point as they try desperately to follow the law as they’ve been instructed only to constantly be redirected and told they are falling short. The people want to follow God but the burden of doing so in the supposedly prescribed manner is to heavy a burden to bear. So Jesus tells them of another way. He has been instructing them about how they can be his disciples and missionaries in the world and to illustrate the ways this call is different than what they have come to expect his invitation to follow includes this lovely invitation to rest.
We can believe in this invitation because Jesus himself follows it. If we are truly called to emulate Christ as we follow his example than it is imperative that we go off and rest a while as Jesus did frequently, including at some key points in his ministry. There were times when the crowds were pressing in on Jesus and he said to his disciples that he was going off for a time apart to rest and to pray. Hundreds of people pressing in on the Messiah, yet he still insisted on taking time to rest and to pray.
When we look at this example he set for us it becomes hard to believe that we still find it difficult – and sometimes seemingly impossible – to take time away during which we can rest, refresh our souls, and talk to God. Jesus was walking the earth with the weight of all humanity on his shoulders yet he still told his followers that his burden was light.
I was online last night and a friend shared a documentary with me. It is by the Mimi Foundation and it is called, “If only for a Second.” The short documentary teaser is a project the foundation sponsored where they interviewed cancer patients about their lives. In the interviews the people reported that spontaneity and carefree moments were some of the things they missed the most while they were sick. The foundation then offered each of the interviewees a free spa-makeover with the agreement that they keep their eyes closed during the process so the mirror reveal of their new look would be a surprise. What they didn’t know was that the mirror was a 2-way mirror with a photographer on the other side and the makeover team was actually outfitting them in outrageous wigs and makeup for a big shock. When the participants opened their eyes and saw their ridiculous appearances for the first time the photographer captured the moment and created a book from the images. For that second when their eyes opened they were no longer cancer patients receiving makeovers – they were human beings captivated by joy and surprise.

What could happen in your life if you laid down your burden for just a moment and choose beingover doing? What would happen if you opened your eyes and noticed the wonder around you in a new way? We’ve a long winter ahead and there will be plenty of time for worry and shopping, working and shoveling. Let’s all find a moment to sit down and refresh ourselves by drinking a cup of hot cocoa with God.


Below is the “ish” text of my Advent 2 sermon preached at Epiphany yesterday morning. I say “ish” because I ascended the steps of the pulpit with a general outline but elaborated and colored as the Spirit led. If you would prefer you can listen here. 

Advent 2 Year A

Signs come in many different forms.

When I was growing up there was a little church near my house that we would pass on the way to the store. For about 15 years they had a sign that read, “Jesus is coming soon, are you ready?” it was on one of those deli signboards with the removable letters. The reason it stood out was not because of the message, but because the “N” in “soon” was backwards. For 15 years this sight amused and fascinated me. “If Jesus really is coming soon, you had better flip that ‘N’ around.”

But, if the “N” wasn’t backwards I probably wouldn’t have taken much notice then, and I surely wouldn’t remember it now. So, I now wonder, did some clever church member do it on purpose to give us pause? …to force us to keep awake? Whatever the reason, I was a little sad when I went home for a visit a few years back and discovered that there is a new message up. I don’t even remember what the sign says now, but I miss that backwards “N.”

Signs come in many different forms.

Matthew makes it a point to tells us about the absurdity of John’s dress and eating habits for a reason: they were outlandish even at the time. When John came a’ Baptizing – you noticed. I cannot tell you how many sermons I have heard for this day on our liturgical calendar that have started with the preacher singing “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” from Godspell. (Despite great temptation, I will not be doing that this morning.) And while some of those sermons have been terrific, I find that we spend so much time parsing Isaiah out of John’s speech that we lose track of the rest of the message. We all remember this imperative that John echoes forward from Isaiah: “Prepare ye the Way of the Lord!” But before John calls us to prepare – he explains how we are to prepare – he calls on us to repent. – Or does he?

Repentance, as we commonly accept the term, brings up images of self-chastisement, guilt, and feelings of inadequacy. We think that if we use our time to repent we are being called to feel badly about our actions and ourselves. But that is not the repentance we are called to here. The word that is translated into “repent” here is the Greek verb metanoia. While this word was translated into the English “Repent” starting in the second century, scholars insist that a more accurate translation would be to say that we are called to “Turn our hearts from sin and towards God.” How different would your interpretation of today’s Gospel passage be if we heard John cry out, “Turn your hearts from sin and towards God; The kingdom of Heaven has come near!”?

Suddenly we are able to hear John in a different way when the repentance he is crying out about is a call to recognize God’s power to transform our lives. Metanoia, is a call to mindfulness, the kind of mindfulness Liz Kinchen urged us to pursue through our New Year’s intentions last week, and through that mindfulness we are opened to receive vision from the mind of Christ. Through that mindfulness we open ourselves to receive the Grace that is constantly being offered to us by a God who wants only to be in relationship with us. Suddenly, when we hear the Baptist’s cry as it was intended, we hear it in a new way because some of the prickly edges have been worn away by our new knowledge.

Signs come in many different forms: there are men in camel hair clothes, sticky with honey from the midday meal screaming about repentance – a stranger on a frigid street corner with a cardboard sign asking for help – the way the light hits you on a particular afternoon, or even the news of the death of an amazing world leader who spoke truth to power, spent years in prison, and freed a people – signs come in many different forms. Whatever the sign is, we have to be open to noticing it. Sometimes, we might even get called upon to be a sign for others. Whatever the sign is, be open to noticing it. Regardless of when it presents itself, we may never be ready for the message or maybe that message will be exactly what you need to hear to get ready for the coming of the King.

We all need a backwards “N” in our lives to make us stop long enough to ask, are we ready? We need that backwards “N” because I am fairly certain there won’t be anyone wearing a camel hair tunic cinched with a leather belt showing up in our lives anytime soon.

Whatever the backwards N is in your life this Advent season I hope it invites you to go home and ask yourself, am I ready to have my heart broken open by God? Am I ready to turn away from sin and turn my heart toward God? Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet, we are only in Advent 2, and it is the beginning of the year… and God issues that invitation every minute of every day. Listen to the cry of John the Baptist. Give yourself over to metanoia. And remember: Jesus is coming soon, and His birth will change you if you let it.

Watch for the Light

It may surprise you to learn that I am a bit of a Scrooge. I prefer the term “Advent purist,” but the way it manifests is that I am rather militant in my desire to save Christmas celebrations for 24 December and after. At Bible and Beverages this past Monday night, one of our number joked that he wished he knew where the circuit breaker was at Mahoney’s Garden Centre so he could cut power to the Christmas lights. It was a funny thought that made me feel a little less alone in my bahumbugness about it all.

I don’t want to be a Scrooge. I want to see the lights and the joy and internalize some of the wonder but that can be difficult with all that seems to swirl around – especially this time of year. There is a distinct difference between the light of Christ in Christmas and the commercial hoopla that the decorations in the stores represent. All of this has called me to consider what concrete steps I could take to intentionally focus on the light that breaks through the darkness in this season. Where can I find Christ in the midst of the craziness?

To answer those questions I’ve decided to adopt an Advent discipline this year as a way of intentionally looking for the light each day. Similar to a Lenten discipline, I will be taking specific prayerful steps to listen to what the Spirit is saying in my life. Not surprisingly, the steps I will be taking involve color and lots of glitter. I plan to paint each day during Advent as a prayer and mindfulness activity.  There are two books that will be my guides on the journey: Praying in Color by Sybil McBeth and The Painting Table by Roger Hutchison.

It can be very easy to lose track of the simple and beautiful reason for this season when society tells us to sprint from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But really, is there ever a time of year when we don’t feel the push to sprint ahead? It seems that with each change of season there is another reason why we can’t slow down. From sports to time changes to work schedules and everything in-between, there is always something to be done or someplace to go. It seems this is nothing new since the architects of the church calendar very intentionally built in seasons of reflection in advance of our two major feast days. Advent is a time for hopeful expectation. It is a time that can be stressful and even painful as we remember the people and events in our lives that have influenced us. But Advent is also an invitation – an invitation to wait, watch, notice, and pray all the while trusting that Christ will come. So, while I work on the trust part I will keep my hands busy (and messy) this season.

A lifetime of gratitude

“If the world is night, shine my life like a light.” -Emily Saliers
For those on social media, we are seeing a lot about a month of gratitude. Folks are taking the opportunity each day to openly express what they are grateful for. I have loved reading my friends little moments of gratitude – many of which are the beautiful little, everyday things we often take for granted. But this also has me thinking: Why is it counter cultural to express our gratitude?
When we choose whom to surround ourselves with we are more likely to choose happy, positive people. It’s just human nature to surround ourselves with people who make us feel good. As someone who sometimes struggles with how I am perceived by new folks, I am especially cognizant of this tendency. I recognize it in myself, too – I want to be around people who help me see the blessings in life. So I wonder – if we are more prone to choose happiness in our relationships, why do we find it difficult to share the magical moments of joy as freely as we share annoyances?
It seems to me that it has become societally intolerable to express these gratitudes because we don’t want to be perceived as braggarts.  We want to be seen as humble and to do that we downplay our sparkle and in doing so we grow scales over our eyes that eventually obstruct our ability to see the wonder and blessing that is always around us. When we intentionally strive to fit in through mediocrity, we become more attune to the negativity around us. When we feel embarrassed about proclaiming awe and gratitude for fear of how others will interpret it, we eventually stop noticing those things all together.
This month of gratitude is a lovely invitation to remind ourselves of how blessed we are. It is permission to boldly recognize and name the gifts we receive on a daily basis – and in doing so, maybe we can walk into the next month with our vision restored and our hearts unburdened. What if we all tried, not just for a month, but in our lives to name a gratitude each and every day? How would that not only change others’ perception of us, but our own perception of ourselves?  And, once that perception is changed, will we become more likely to try and share the beauty of the world with others?
Openly expressing gratitude is a simple, first step toward boldly adding sparkle to the world. (And you all know how I feel about sparkle.) So keep it coming. Whether through social media, personal interactions, or quietly in prayer – recognizing and expressing our gratitude can help us to see the light and seeing that light will help us to reflect that light into the shadowy places of the world.
Sparkle on, my friends.

The Theology of Baseball

I’ve heard it said that Fenway Park is the “Largest House of Prayer in Boston.” This week, more than usual, all eyes have turned to this cathedral of sorts as our hometown boys take on the Cardinals for yet another series. People from all walks of life have come to Fenway to celebrate and cheer as they collectively hold their breath with each swing of the bat. It’s the ultimate fellowship forum. For folks who may not have much else in common, during the post season we have common ground that brings us together.
Common ground is hard to come-by these days. We’ve just emerged after a sixteen-day government shutdown into a couple weeks with even more horrific school violence and natural disasters around the world claiming lives. We need something to root for. Regardless of which team we cheer on, (obviously you all root for the Sox…) having something fun to cheer for helps us when we must dive back into the trenches and face what is happening in the world. Baseball doesn’t make the rest of the world go away, but it brings us together to watch something fun and to hope for a little while.
What is it we see when we watch this “All-American Game?” We see a group of people whose collective purpose is to help one another come home. The entire purpose of the game of baseball is to get back to the place where it all started. When you are home you are protected. When you are home you are finally safe. There is no place else on the field where you experience that kind of safety. But, in order to come back home, you must first go out. You must use the gift of your physical form to go out into the field and to visit different places. While you are there, you will encounter different types of people and have conversations. You will have to watch what is happening around you and discern when it’s the right time to move to another place. Some things will help you get where you’re going; others will try to take you off of the right path. And when you do eventually make it back home –and you will- the celebration is grand.
Is it a perfect metaphor? No, of course not. But what it does is capture some of the reasons so many people are losing sleep. What if we used this momentary interruption of the monotony of life to infuse that hope into our lives, to be curious about our neighbors, to root for something good, and to look at our own paths home? Are you on the path that will get you home safely? What help do you need along the way? Is there a way you could be helpful on someone else’s path? And the thing I most like to ponder: what will the “coach” say to you when you do make it safely back home?

Finishing Last

As the sun came up just after arriving.

Someone has to do it. All of the running blogs and articles tell you that you “most likely” will not finish last when you race. Well, this morning I went and ran a 3.59 mile trail run with only 45 other people. As soon as I saw how small the field was, how BIG the hills were, and the crazy people in shorts and pro running gear running up and down hills for a prerace warm-up I knew there was a very strong likelihood I could actually finish last.

My friend Jane and I started in the back of the pack. With every steep downhill I went back to elementary science and thought: What goes down must come back up. Man alive, the second half of the course was going to be BRUTAL! I kept pace with Jane for the first half of the run but then I needed to back off. My lungs were on fire and running up the hills was not going to happen. I ran on the flats and downhills (which were becoming fewer and farther between) and walked up the hills. But not once did I feel badly about my position. I knew I was pushing myself as hard as I could. The last thing I needed to do was go and have an asthma attack in the middle of the woods – and the whistling in my lungs warned that was a distinct possibility. There were 3 of us at the back of the pack. I could see Jane ahead of me and one other girl a little further ahead. I joked with the officials positioned around the course that “I was making sure everyone made it out of the woods safely.” I listened to my body and pushed it even when I thought I couldn’t but knew it was safe to try.
Starting line before we began. Notice the folks in shorts!

There have been a lot of articles recently about back of the pack runners questioning if we are committed or even “real runners.” It feels a little like the questions I fielded when I was a transitional deacon. To be honest, while it is a little frustrating to know that these elite runners feel the need to comment about what may or may not be motivating runners like me, I really don’t care all that much. I will never be competing for a first place medal – and that’s okay. I am competing only with myself. I am competing to be better than I was yesterday. I am competing to use the body God gifted me with. That’s all – and that should be enough. I am no threat to the elites and I see no reason why it’s become so important for some people in that high bracket of runners to discourage a new crop of runners who might never run a 3 hour marathon (or run a marathon at all!), but who are getting off the couch, making their lives healthier, and inspiring others to do the same.

As I trudged up the hill to the finish line this morning I laughed at myself as I repeated over and over in my head: “and the last shall be first.” I felt like I finished first as I looked down the hill and realized that I had done it. (I know that’s not what Jesus meant when he said it, but he doesn’t mind that I took the scripture out of context – I checked with him.) I don’t know my split times because my running app froze during the race – but that’s okay because I completed my goal: I finished.

You are a priest to me

It is days like today – with interactions that stir the soul – that remind me what it is to be a priest. This morning I was scheduled to go get a mani/pedi since I’m going to a wedding tomorrow and *full disclosure* my feet look like hooves after all the abuse they’ve gotten from my running. It felt a little frivolous but I really just wanted a chance to relax and to feel pretty. I went in and a woman named Lynn took care of me. I was scattered when I arrived at the salon and chose 4 colors since I couldn’t make up my mind. I sat in the chair, apologized for my feet, and took a deep breath. Lynn quietly and gently got to work. I asked her name and about her family. She asked me about my family and about the event I was attending. I told her about my race on Monday and what a gift it was to be able to be pampered like this right now. The conversation naturally, and comfortably calmed to a silence and I closed my eyes.
Lynn gently and lovingly went about her work. I have never had a pedicure like this before. She was ministering to me in a really lovely way. I could feel the presence of God in her touch. It was eerily beautiful. When we moved over to the manicure station I asked Lynn more about her family and her life in Vietnam before she moved here. She told me that she always knew she wanted to do nails and hair and to “help women see themselves as beautiful.” She said she could have done other things but she loved seeing people smile when they feel pretty. She was describing a sense of call. I know that sense – I have it for my vocation as well.

My whole day presented these types of interactions with friends and strangers alike. These glimpses of holiness in the everyday. I spent the late afternoon making gluten free communion bread and the opportunity to help in that way while being able to be quiet and in solitude was a real gift.
Then this evening I went to get tea with a lovely friend. We talked about our respective lives and feelings. I was struck during our conversation with how easy it was to sit there with her and to palpably feel the Holy Spirit with us. I literally got goose bumps. Neither of us were putting on airs or trying to force anything. We were just present, as we are – trusting it was enough. As my friend spoke I could hear the Spirit in her words and I was moved to tears.
All day I have been struck by the fact that I am surrounded by priests. No, they are not necessarily ordained – but they are priests to me. In the circle of saints and the priesthood of all believers we all have the potential to affect sacramental change in the world. Every action and interaction has the potential for holiness when made with intention and care. Is this a theologically complex subject? Maybe. Do I believe it to be true? Absolutely. So thank you to all of you who have been or will be priests to me. You may not even know that you have given me this gift, but your goodness shines through you. I am grateful beyond words tonight for the gift of the priests in my midst.  

Called to celebrate

Today I led a three hour training with our Godly Play teachers. We were discussing the pedagogy and theology of Godly Play storytelling. When a storyteller tells a Godly Play story he or she tells the story from memory and looks only at the storytelling props as she/he conveys the story that is written on his/her heart and tells it to the children. You can watch a Godly Play story by clicking here. As I watched Diana tell the story of the Good Shepherd to the teachers assembled it hit me: teaching Godly Play is akin to my celebration of the Eucharist. I told the teachers that the reason I do not look at the congregation when I celebrate is because the prayer is not about me. My role in that moment is to pray on behalf of the congregation. I look at the book even when I have the words memorized. I look at the chalice and paten – the bread and the wine – I only look at the congregation when inviting them to proclaim the mystery of faith, to say the Lord’s Prayer, to say the invitation, etc… because  the Eucharist prayer isn’t about me or them; it is about us and God. In that moment I told the teachers that I consider them to be celebrants of Godly Play as I am a celebrant at the table. It is a sacred space we enter to teach and we must center our hearts to be present at that moment. Today, during that training, I learned something more about being a priest that I have not yet learned. It was a humbling and inspiring afternoon as I realized that nine months into priesthood I still have “firsts” to experience. I hope that gift, the gift of seeing something familiar in a new way because of this calling, never ceases. I hope to always be in awe of this peculiar and wonderful life I am called to lead.

Running with a resurrection stone

(Alternate blog title: Another example of how Harry Potter taught me everything I need to know in


I am learning that becoming a runner is a humbling process.
I chose to do the Team in Training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma society after my dad told me his cancer is worse again, and, the treatment we’ve gotten used to over the past 8 years isn’t working anymore. I was scared and frustrated and determined not to sit by and do nothing. When my dad was first diagnosed in 2005 I quit my amazing job in Little Rock and moved back to Massachusetts with no job to come home to. I did something – a leap of faith – and it led me to where I am now (A priest ministering to an amazing congregation in suburban Boston. Not a bad gig!) But this time around I wanted to do something that would affect more than just my family or me. That’s where raising funds and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society came in. Yes, I am bettering my own health in the process, but through that transformation I am contributing to research that might someday yield a cure.

So what does this have to do with the resurrection stone? In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we learn of 3 magical objects that, when united, make the holder a master over death: The Elder Wand (most powerful wand in the world,) The Invisibility Cloak (makes the wearer invisible to all – including death,) and The Resurrection Stone (a stone that can recall from death those closest to the person.) Read HP to learn the awesomeness of this tale. 🙂 Anyway – I’ve learned, as I drag myself out of bed each morning at 5:45AM to train that I need a LOT of motivation. I have a specific goal I am working towards and I have to push myself very hard if I am going to get there but some days that goal seems impossible. I am going it physically alone and that can be hard sometimes. I need Jillian Michaels to jump out of the bushes and yell at me. But since that isn’t going to happen – I carry my resurrection stone with me each day.
Each morning, my mom goes running with me. I can actually picture her running beside me willing me forward. She tells me she is proud of me and to keep going. (This image sometimes backfires and I start to laugh because she is always wearing one of her long jumpers like she’s ready for school and the absurdity just gets me.) My dad, who is very much alive and kicking, stands in my imagination just around the next corner waiting for me to get there. Several of the patients I treated during my time in child life cheer me on. The donor list for this venture runs through my head and I imagine seeing each of them along my route cheering me on. I could not get through my morning runs without these blessed souls. Each morning I use different levels of this visualization as I run, depending on how hard it is. I carry them with me in my heart, but I know that on race day I will have to drop my stone at the starting line trusting that these dear ones have given me all I need to travel the distance. Like Harry, I will have to enter the woods on my own.
This resurrection narrative naturally lends itself to the resurrection narrative of my faith. In the Harry Potter books, Rowling instructs the reader through Harry’s own learning, that the resurrection stone itself is dangerous because pulling those we love from death is not really life. Using magic to trick death into giving our loved ones back really only gives us the physical representation, a half-representation of that which we seek. This is why Christ had to come. Jesus came and defied death as only God could do. Jesus overcame death and the grave so entirely that we are able to rest in the certainty that our loved ones who go before us go “into paradise [where] the angels lead [them.]”  It is with that certainty I don my collar each day to speak the truth of Christ’s love in this world. I don’t believe in the deathly hallows or in magic stones that raise the dead; but I do believe in wonder and imagination and creativity that allow us to navigate this miraculous world created by our One true redeemer and advocate.
A few weeks ago I saw a ring in my friend’s etsy shop that reminded me of the resurrection stone. Finally I went ahead and purchased it. It arrived in the mail today. When I look at that ring on my finger, when I feel it there, I think of all of you and those who have gone before me and I remember that we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. I wear this ring and visualize the rock rolled away from the tomb and the angels regaling “He is not here; He has been raised.” This simple stone from my favorite beach is a talisman against doubt and fear. It is a reminder of Christ who lived and died for all of us. It is a prayer stone from the place I go to meet God when I am home (and where my mother met God so very often.) I know I don’t need the resurrection stone to call to my side support each day, I am blessed beyond measure: but for right now, it is a great comfort. 

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