"Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God." ~Lenny Bruce

Over the last couple of days I have attended an annual gathering at the seminary from which I graduated. It is always a nice time, seeing old friends, catching up and hearing what the school is doing these days, what new things are exciting both professors and students. The days consist of worship and lectures by professors and former students. This year the alumni speaker was,Craig Wright,who happens to be a playwright,producer and screenwriter for such television shows as Lost and Six Feet Under. He had been asked to speak about what popular culture and the entertainment world has to teach the church of today. As he offered his very entertaining lectures, he was clear that he was not a 'church-growth' expert and that what he said was, above all, his opinion, nothing more.

Now it is not big news that main line denominational churches are declining in membership, and have been doing so for many years. The plethora of books and seminars on this subject is mind boggling. I have to admit to my overall sadness, and perhaps boredom, on the subject. There is such desperation in the intent of nearly all of these offerings. And so, I am imagining that those who planned the event invited this former student, not only out of the desire to have such a successful student back on campus, but because they thought he might actually have some answers to this perilous dilemma. A dilemma most students will walk out the door to try to solve.

It would be impossible to try to even summarize Wright's lectures in this small space. But I will try to elaborate on one of the key ideas. He spoke about the purpose of entertainment as that which keeps us from being confronted with our 'being-ness' and 'Being'. Basically, that's seminary talk for what it means to be a human being in relationship to the Presence of God, however we name it. This 'being-ness' is all tied up in what it means to be alive, our fear of death, our anxiety over all the things we are anxious about, what happens after we die,…well, you get the picture. Wright was saying that what entertainment does is keep us from having to really confront what it means to be truly alive. And as human beings in the 21st century we are people grasping at being entertained. We spend countless hours watching television, playing video games, on our computers, and on and on. 

Now, I don't think he was saying that any of this entertainment is bad in and of itself. It is only how we use it, how much we use it, that causes things to get dicey. When we use all the many ways we can be entertained to keep us from really living in the moment, from being aware of what it means to be alive, with all that means, we are denying the gifts of life. And to deny the gifts of life is also to deny the Creator of life.

So in answering the question about what popular culture, which has entertainment as its main goal, has to teach the church, his answer was clear: it doesn't. Creating worship services that entertain only created an environment in which people have another opportunity to  disconnect from what it means to be a creation of God, in all its complexities. The church is meant to make us MORE aware of what it means to be alive. The church is meant to share the gospel, the good news of how the Holy moves among us. The church is about serving…one another, the least, the lost, the left out. The church is about sitting still, which is what Jesus did a lot of, especially when things got tough, when being human was at its lowest and highest points. In sitting still, in not being entertained, we come to remember our own breath, to feel it, to hear it, to know it for the power it holds. And in this knowing we connect with the Breath that moves through all Creation, as a reminder of the fragility of our very lives, and we can perhaps, with grace,  offer our gratitude. 

If every church put as much time and energy in these three things: sharing the gospel, serving, and sitting still, as they did in marketing plans and ad campaigns, goal setting and 5-year plans, perhaps we might find a way not only to survive but to thrive. I suppose only time will tell.

It promises to be a beautiful spring weekend…..ripe for sitting still….enjoy!


"With the rising of the Sun, let us seek to know God, whose coming is as sure as dawn, whose grace is like rain, renewing the face of the Earth." Hosea 6:3

I have been having a crazy-busy week. Everything I have been doing has been wonderful and enlivening. It has just been a whirlwind of meetings, gatherings of people which has kept me traveling at a certain pace. 

As I arrived home yesterday after being in this constant state of motion and as I drove my car into the driveway my eyes fell on a sweet, little yellow pansy that had somehow, not only survived winter but planted itself in an unlikely place at the edge of our garden. It had taken up the work of shining its yellow face into the world far away from where last year's pansies had been planted. How did it happen, I wondered? Pansies are not perennials but can make their way back in spring in some miraculous and mysterious way. after a year they will bloom not where they were planted, so to speak, but in a space far from their original home.

I don't know how it happened that this little, yellow, spring flower had traveled to where it did. I only know that in the frenzied nature of my week it was the catalyst that caused me to stop, to take a deep breath and remember that I am guest of this world. This sweet little flower was like the hostess of a really great party saying 'welcome' with petal-arms held wide, reminding me to take in all the beauty, the change, the gifts of this wonderful world. 

And so I did. I walked into the house and put aside the still unfinished to-do list and I put on my walking shoes and headed out into the waning hours of a beautiful day. As I walked along I saw so many signs of new life and color being added to a world that has been quickly emerging from its drab state. Crab apple trees are in their full splendor painting the landscape in pinks and reds. Phlox, purple and white, line sidewalks and rock gardens. Tulips are everywhere……red, yellow, white, purple, orange popping up from the places they have known as home in the frozen ground. I even saw, not only dwarf irises, but tall, deep purple irises blooming in a sunny spot along one house. I had probably ridden by many similar scenes during the day, scenes that had gone unnoticed traveling at my own version of warp speed.

And yet this stray, yellow pansy was what had been the catalyst that woke me up, that had reminded me that I am a guest of this world. Without its far-flung presence I might have walked into the house, opened my computer and continued chipping away at my to-do list, doing what I thought 'needed' to be done. Instead this little flower provided a much needed time out, not sitting in a chair until I learned to behave, but heading out into the world to be dazzled. It seems the Universe had other plans for me yesterday and I needed a wake up call.

For all those strays…..those planted in places that seem irregular, unplanned, misplaced….I give thanks. They just might be in that place for a reason beyond their knowing, waiting to give guidance to a pilgrim who has lost the way.

Plays Well With Others

"Now, join your hands, and with your hands your hearts." William Shakespeare

Over the past weekend I had the privilege of witnessing what happens when people work with one another to create something bigger than themselves. In many ways this is not an unusual thing. Certainly people do it every day in their work, in their families, at their schools. But if you can be truly aware of what is happening while it is happening,  it is a beautiful and wondrous things to behold. 

On Saturday I watched as a family came together for the wedding of their two children. Each family brought the best of what they had to offer and through careful planning and gracious communication, what evolved was a blessed representation of the love they had for their two children, of the love they had witnessed in their children. I have to admit that,unfortunately, I have been present to the many times when this was not the case. Where families feud and fuss over the silliest details often forgetting the real reason they have all gathered. To be witness to their children's marriage! So, to see it done, well, with pride, faith, creativity and sheer joy is a delight.

Later that same evening I attended a benefit concert that rocked the rafters of our church. The music was thrilling, the performance sublime. But what struck me most were the many ways people had chipped in to do their part. We were greeted with smiling faces. We were ushered with hospitality. We were surrounded by countless people who were holding tightly to the adage that 'many hands make light work.' With all the hands that had joined to bring this concert to birth, it was a tapestry of cooperation and enthusiasm. Every part of the team mattered which was evidenced at every turn.

Yesterday morning our worship was a combination of two worshiping communities that can, from the outside, be seen as quite different from one another. The music they sing reflects different styles. The words they say can sometimes express divergent theologies. Even the ways they dress can seem to be at odds. But careful attention had been paid to what the other valued most and the leadership had spent intentional time communicating well, asking important questions, clarifying ideas. In other words, they had played well with one another. Like children on the playground, they had brought all their toys to the table and shared what they liked to play with most. It resulted in a beautiful worship experience where everyone was able to express their worship in ways that felt comfortable and authentic, where everyone felt heard and had the safety to speak.

Playing well with others is an important skill we teach children from an early age. And yet, as adults, we often forget the rules of the sandbox. We take off our listening ears and put on our mean faces. We hoard the tools of our trade and keep our doors closed to any new ideas someone else might bring to the table.  This kind of playing never leads to much creativity and even less fun.

I am grateful for the opportunities I experienced this past weekend. I like bringing my best toys to the playground and to see what others have brought, too. I love being a part of any experience where I can be stretched and challenged to grow. But best of all I just like how it feels at the end of the day to know that I have had the blessing of playing well with others.

After Dark

Driving home from the office one evening this week, I witnessed a sight that made me laugh and filled me with curiosity. It was nearly dark, a little after eight o'clock as I drove past a row of apartment buildings I pass with regularity. I always notice this block of apartments because there are often family groups sitting on the small porches, adults may be having conversations while children play close by with small toys. There is no play equipment near the apartments, no swing set or jungle gym. The children always seem to be entertaining themselves with whatever is at hand.

There is a stop light at the corner by the apartments and I had come to rest at the red light. That's when I noticed that the porches were empty, the lights now on inside the apartments and the people, no doubt, tucked inside for the night. Except for one boy, probably about eight years old. He was crouching just off the porch in the shadows of a scraggly bush that has yet to find its summer foliage. I was intrigued. He looked around, as if to make sure he was alone and began trying, over and over again, to do the deep knee bend dance movement most often associated with Russian dance, as seen in the soldiers dance in Fiddler on the Roof. The boy was determined. He jumped down, both knees bent as he tried to flick first one leg and then the other out at a right angle, his arms folded regally across his chest. My red light stop continued glowing as I watched him try over and over to execute this move. Just as the light went green, he did it. He successfully did the crouch-kick-crouch-kick move and a huge smile spread across his face. And mine.

As I drove on I wondered what could have possibly caused this young boy to head outside on a warm spring evening to try this particular move. Had he seen someone else dance in this way? Was he too embarrassed to try it inside in front of family members no doubt trying to watch television or do homework? Maybe he was in a school play and this was a part of his big dance number. Who knows? But the sight gave me such joy.

I thought of all the times I have imagined myself creating a move I have seen someone else do that seemed beautiful, graceful. I wanted to be able to do that too. Why, even as recent as the Winter Olympics, I tried to imagine myself doing some of the ice skating spins that the skaters were doing. When I mentioned this, my husband pointed out that knowing how to ice skate might be a first step! think of some of the lovely movements I see people do on my guilty pleasure show, Dancing With the Stars. Watching these brave people learn new steps each week and then show them off in front of an audience always gives me the itch to try also. I can imagine there are many people who, after watching the show, try a few of the steps in the privacy of their own homes. Lifting arms, gliding across the floor in sweatpants or sneakers, for at least a moment we can have the opportunity to do our own sweet moves. 

Maybe that is what lured the young boy outside just as dark approached to see if he, too, could do 'that move'. The dream of being able to kick, spin, leap and slide have kept people dancing throughout time. I am glad the dream and the tradition continues, aren't you? The Friday night ahead could be a fine one for dancing. I say, go for it!

Have a blessed weekend………………..

"Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!"  ~Constanze

Earth Day

"The message of Genesis is not domination but appreciation. We, who the text says are made in God's image, ought to reflect God's attitude toward nature: appreciation." Sallie McFague

 In case no one has said this to you today: "Happy Earth Day!" I have now been offered this greeting  by a couple of people accompanied by huge smiles. I also received the same greeting by email with the still breathtaking image of the Earth from space. I never seem to tire of seeing it. Perhaps it is the memory of that first time I saw it and the realization that I was seeing the fullness of my home as it floated in the greater universe. There was the feeling of both total awe and the recognition of the tiny speck that I am in comparison. Though I have seen it countless times since, I find my reaction is still tinged with that original wonder.

It seems impossible to me that we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. I recall the first one in 1970 and the excitement I felt that so many people were uniting to speak on behalf of our troubled environment. As a high school aged kid, it seeded some hope in me for the ways people, working in solidarity, can make a difference in the world. And over the years, though there have been set backs and challenges, there have also been increased care for our world that has saved species, cleaned up lakes and rivers, called a halt to those things that pollute our air and generally changed the ways we are aware of our human impact on our environment. There is still much to do to stop the effects of global climate change and yet we now know more than we ever have about what needs to change, what needs our attention, what ways we must continue to stand in solidarity. 

For me, Earth Day has always been an extension of how I have understood my life in faith. For reasons unclear to me, my central experience of the Holy has always been grounded in the goodness of Creation. While I am sure these were not the messages spoken from the pulpit of my childhood, messages most often filled with a violent, angry, punitive image of God, I somehow walked into adolescence and adulthood with an image of a Creator God.  This Creator moved through all of Creation, not just the human ones, but all…..trees, water, air, animals, birds, insects,all, and continues to bring birth in ways that seem unimaginable. It has brought a reverence for life to my way of walking in the world for which I am grateful.

While I was in seminary I read one of Sallie McFague's books called The Body Of God. McFague whose words are quoted above, used the image of the Earth as not a mere metaphor for God but as an example of how we experience the Holy. The Earth, she pointed out, was how we truly experience how God works in the world and to harm the Earth is to harm God. I remember finding it a challenging and yet inspiring book which jogged my understanding of God's Presence. It also gave new meaning for me as to what it meant to be an environmentalist.

Earth Day 2010 has seemed to extend even further into more than just one day. People have been celebrating all week. We will have a special Earth Day worship service this Sunday and I know other churches had one this past Sunday. In our service we will read the sacred texts that speak of Creator and Creation and our amazing interdependence. We will be reminded that in the scriptures Earth Day was not just one day but every day. We hear it in Genesis, the Psalms, in Ezekiel and Job and the other prophets, and in the many stories Jesus tells to instruct the people of what it means to reside in the 'kingdom' of God. His stories of fishermen and farmers, bakers and healers, all tell of those who are deeply grounded in what it means to be people of the Earth.  

On this blessed Earth Day, may we find ourselves at day's end filled with appreciation, deep appreciation for the gifts of this spinning planet we call home……sweet……home.And may we carry that appreciation forward into the next day and the next and the next.


"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." Maya Angelou

I have had the privilege of spending the last several days in northern Wisconsin watching spring arrive. When we showed up on beautiful Papoose Lake, the temperatures were warm and the water was like glass. There was no sign of the boats that can dot this little lake in the middle of summer. Not long after arriving, my husband hung a bird feeder off the deck and filled it with seed. By the time we had unpacked clothes and the groceries had filled the refrigerator with the staples that would sustain us for the next several days, birds of all kinds had begun showing up. How did they know? How did they know there was a new food source in the neighborhood? Do birds have a signal, a certain call, that says 'soup's on!'?

The first to arrive were the gold finches. Like the best dressed girls at the prom, their brilliant yellow feathers created nearly the only dash of color in the still leafless landscape. They were soon followed by chickadees with their sweet little gray and black bodies, their tiny beaks pecking away at the feeder. A glance away to make a cup of coffee was followed by the appearance of house finches, their red and orangish feathers seeming more intense than when they are seen in midsummer. Not long after, the message must have arrived to the nuthatches, and they came to share in the discovered bounty.At one point I looked out and there was a different kind of bird on every perch of the feeder, all eating quietly, obviously right at home with the diversity at their dinner table. By day's end a few starlings had also shown up only to find it difficult, though not impossible to poke their large beaks into the feeding holes. They seemed content with eating the 'leftovers' the other birds had knocked to the ground below.

Watching this movable feast, I was reminded of the bumper sticker I see with great regularity as I make my way on Minnesota highways. Using the primary symbols of many faith traditions, the symbols are aligned to spell the word 'COEXIST'.It is a message of hope, tacked to the back of various cars. It carries the deep hope that the people of the world and our nation will find ways to see the common ways we can live together as people of faith. Though our words might be different, our emphases divergent, the ways we speak of the Holy diverse, the hope of being able to coexist with respect and an appreciation for those whose faith and life experience is different from our own is, I believe, a noble and important goal. As I watched these beautiful and fragile little creatures coexist at the same feeder, my heart was warmed by their willingness to feast from the same table and I sent a prayer that those of us without wings might learn to do the same. 

In four days, these lovely winged ones had gone through nearly two fillings of the feeder. As the days warmed and the sun became more intense, the birch trees began to show a glimmer of yellow green at their tops. The grass that is planted in places by those who want to mow while they are 'at the lake' had grown and turned a deep green. I even saw one homeowner out tackling his first mow of the year. From a human perspective, four days of recreation allowed for relaxed muscles, deep rest and some good reading time. I am sure that those who saw me today were unable to see the kind of marked difference in me that I witnessed in the changes of nature. Growth happened all around me. Newness came to the landscape. And the birds provided a powerful lesson.

And so today I will begin once again my endeavor to COEXIST after the example of my feathered friends.

A Thin Place

 “Thin places,” the Celts call this space,
Both seen and unseen,
Where the door between the world 
And the next is cracked open for a moment
And the light is not all on the other side.
God shaped space. Holy.
~Sharlande Sledge

In the Celtic Christian tradition there is the concept of a thin place…..a luminous experience in which one senses the veil between the earthly world, what can be seen and touched, and the eternal which is thin, permeable even. If you read Celtic authors at all, it won't be long until this concept creeps into the writing. It is most visible in our understanding of the 'great cloud of witnesses' and particularly in the scriptures you may hear if you show up at church over the next few Sundays. It is in these readings that we hear of the disciples' experience of the 'showings' of Jesus after his death and resurrection. This week, for instance, we read about Jesus appearing to the disciples when they are not having much luck in their chosen line of work… After they see him, their nets are full to over flowing. It is a rich and fascinating story that has endless facets to discover.

This week I am having my own thin place experience. It has happened right around this time for the last few years. In our front yard stands a cherry bush, about four feet in height. Right now it is covered with delicate little pink blossoms. Like mostly every other blooming plant, it is a week or so ahead of schedule given the weather and early spring we've experienced. The bush was a gift from my dearest friends, my book club, to honor and remember my father who died on April 23rd several years ago. Since the bush's planting it has bloomed every year on and around the anniversary of his death and has provided me with an unexplainable experience of him. Since the first sighting of the blossoms, I have now watched and waited for another showing, another thin place, that allows the present and the eternal to meld. During these days I think of him more often, his sweet, gentle way much like the pink blossoms on the bush, and, of course, his love for cherry pie.

A couple of years ago I shared this story with my mother who told my brothers and they now also want to hear the progress of the cherry bush. " Is it blooming yet?" they will ask when they call. I will give an update on the status of the bush and we will all be pulled into the deep longing and symbolism this bush now represents. My mother has now shared the bush story with my eight-year-old nephew. Not long ago he asked if the bush would be blooming soon. He remarked that somehow "Poppy knows" about the bush. "I wish I could see the it." he said. The experience of the thin place has now been passed on to another generation.

The stories of Jesus' appearance to the disciples after his death carry so much….comfort, validation, affirmation, encouragement, hope, fulfillment. Over the years as these accounts have been retold, they have taken on deeper and richer meanings. Our post enlightenment minds ask questions about the 'truth' of the stories. Did he really appear or did they imagine it? Did their luck improve because they saw Jesus or was it just the movement of the under currents that brought the fish to the net? Or was their experience of the one they loved so full, so deep, so rich, that they were enveloped in the veil that exists between the worlds, a veil we cannot hope to understand but must accept as pure Mystery?

I am going for the Mystery. I am claiming the gift of not knowing. Whether it's fish stories or blooming bushes, I place my faith in the thin place that exists between what I cannot see and what I pray is present. I will continue to watch the cherry bush and feel the closeness I long for, the person I miss. And I will continue to tell the story just as the disciples did. 

It simply seems like the right thing to do.

Same Old, Same Old

"Using the same old materials of earth, air, fire, and water, every twenty-four hours God creates something new out of them. If you think you're seeing the same show all over again seven times a week, you're crazy. Every morning you wake up to something that in all eternity never was before and never will be again. And the you that wakes up was never the same before and will never be the same again either." ~Frederick Buechner

Last night I was driving in my car minding my own business when…boom…there was the Sun as fire-red brilliant as I have ever seen it. It was setting in the west and I happened to be driving past a beautifully groomed golf course, the grass a luscious green, providing a stage for this Hollywood style ending to a day. I strained my ears to listen for whatever sun-setting music must be playing somewhere. No music. Just the pulsing colors of fire filling the sky. It was a 'Wow!' moment stuck right in the middle of my week.

Certainly I have seen amazing sunsets before but this one seemed somehow special. Maybe it wasn't the sunset at all that was different. Maybe it was me. Perhaps whatever had happened in my day had created the perfect soil for me to be able to see the beauty of the setting sun in a new way, with new eyes, sacred eyes. Whatever it was, I knew that the ending to this April day was anything but same old, same old. 

If we give ourselves room to really think about the experience of our living we might come to the same realization as Frederick Buechner did. When I read his words, I was reminded how, sometimes, as we begin our worship on a Sunday morning, I remind those gathered that there has never been a moment like the one we are sharing. The particular group of people there have never been together before. Though most know one another well, there are always a few guests who cause us to be something different than we were only a few hours earlier when we raised our heads from our pillows.The circle that has gathered has never been before and will not be again. Fascinating to think about, isn't it?

What if we took this realization seriously? What if we approached each morning, each day, for the fresh start it truly is? What if we opened our eyes ready to step out in a new way, filled with the hope of what we might bring to the world that has never been brought before? I find this prospect exhilarating. Do you? Somehow it seems to me that  it connects us with the fragility and the blessing of our living. We are called to be creators and co-creators with the Holy using, perhaps the same old materials, but in anything but the same old ways. Every day .And not one of our days can be repeated in the exact same way. Each one is a unique experience. 

And if that is the case, it seems the only real way to live is to savor them all.

Grace Please

"Grant me the grace this day
to rest and remember
that there is nothing I have to do,
nothing I have to buy or sell,
nothing I have to produce or consume
in order to become who I already am:
your beloved creation.
May your overworked creation
and those who cannot rest today
come to know the liberation of your sabbath."
    ~Sam Hamilton-Poore

I have had one of those warp speed weeks and it is only Wednesday! I seem to have checked things off my to-do list as fast as I can add yet another urgent matter. Honesty requires that I say that everything I have been doing has been wonderful, a blessing. The stars have simply aligned to allow for several creation projects all at one time. Some weeks seem to have more than their share, don't they?

One of the blessings that has been mine this week is to be a part of a team that is planning a worship service for the 40th anniversary celebration of Earth Day. How can it be 40 years since we first honored this day set aside to remember and re-affirm our responsibility as humans living on this amazing Creation? While looking through some worship resources, I found the prayer that is above. I thought it was lovely and captured where I believe many people find themselves. I know I certainly do. How many times I measure my worth by what I feel I 'must' produce, what I feel I 'should' do, what I think I 'need' to buy in order to be a whole person. This spiral almost always leads me farther from who I truly am: a beloved creation of God, full and complete just as I am. The same can be said of all human beings.

The practice of sabbath holds a very important purpose: to stop us in our tracks long enough for us to remember who we are. Whether overworked or unable to rest, a practice of calling a halt to the frenetic activity most of us cave in to and feel is demanded of us, allows our body, mind and spirit to breathe deeply of the One who carries us even when we fail to notice. As the prayer suggests, there is liberation in that. 

Sabbath moments can encompass full days, an hour here and there, or simply an intentional sipping of a cup of tea. These spring days provide the perfect setting for moments of sabbath. Noticing, really observing the emerging tulip blooms in the yards we pass, how they slowly open like the wings of a butterfly. Allowing the time to check in every day with the maple tree that is doing its work of producing leaves for summer shade, watching how each day there is a minute amount of growth to be seen. Looking down at the sidewalk, keeping an eye out for the mounds of ants that have returned and can be seen crawling over one another doing who knows what and stopping to see if you can allow your eye to track just one particular insect as it zooms within a 2-3 inch radius. All are possible moments of liberation, of remembering who we are….observers, fellow earth travelers, historians, poets, storytellers, psalmists.

Today is as good a day as any to take a break, to begin the practice of sabbath moments. Today is as good a day as any to reach for liberation, the liberation of remembering who we are and for offering our gratitude to the One who called us into being. Today is as good a day as any to ask for grace, please?


The Game of Hope

"Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem."  ~Saul Steinberg

Nearly everyone you run into today in the Twin Cities, and perhaps even across the state, are excited about the opening game at the new Twins stadium. The newspapers, television and radio reports have all highlighted the first game in this long awaited return to outdoor baseball. As someone who did not grow up in Minnesota, I have no memories of anything but indoor baseball. All I have known is the roar of rabid fans inside the Metrodome. But last week we went to the new stadium for its open house and it was wonderful to see the usually humble Minnesotans walking around looking full of pride for such a beautiful facility. As we walked around the circumference of the stadium, the downtown skyline looked lovely and exciting, full of life. It was almost too much for some one the spectators who cast their eyes down as if to say 'this can't really be ours."

In writing this I know there are people who abhor this extravagance. I spoke with someone just last week who thought it was a terrible waste of money in such a time as this. He railed against the expense of something so lavish when just outside the doors there are so many people who are homeless, down-and-out, and in need of the simple necessities of life. While I don't disagree that there are all these problems to be cared for, I also can't help but remember the looks on the faces of those who walked around looking at the well created space for our national pass time. They were the faces of hope.

Hope comes to us in many guises. It arrives with the birth of a new child. It shows up when a problem that seems insurmountable shows a small crack where possibility can inch in. It is seen in the furrowed brow of a young child generating the answer to a difficult question.I saw it in the eyes of a seven year old boy as he looked at the green grass, the bases and the scoreboard that might someday carry his name. And hope also shows up in places where we can forget for a short period of time, but not forever, the desperate situations that make up our world. This is the work of theater, of music, of art and often of sports. Baseball, in particular, moves at a pace where you can watch a game, eat your dinner and carry on a fairly significant conversation at the same time. There is room to breathe and think in this game which is, I think, one of its gifts. Why I even have to admit that, nearly twenty-five years ago, I watched a Twins game while ordering my wedding band from a catalogue a friend had brought along!

I have warm memories of summer nights as a child, the humid Ohio heat soaking my cotton pajamas while in the next room my father listened to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio. That scratchy sound of voices rising and falling with excitement still lingers in my senses. It is probably when the hope of baseball was planted in me. It is probably why I feel the beginning of a baseball season is the start of, not only summer, but of a fresh start for so many things. Who knows what the season might bring? 

And so, as the Twins open this season, a clean slate and a new home is theirs. Outside the stadium the world will go on with its challenges, its failures and its loss. Our work in this arena is never finished. This is the fullness of life, that it contains, not only the deep valleys, but the mountain top experiences. So we take it all and do the best that we possibility can. I believe somehow taking a few hours away to enjoy the rhythm of baseball might provide the opportunity to rid our minds of the heaviness that can encroach with the pain of the world. It is not forgetting but, perhaps, a time of recharging.  And I am thankful for that.