hard work

Palm Sunday is a lot of work.

I don’t mean planning for it or soaking in the wild good of children processing with palms waving.

I mean it is hard emotional work, because it is so very real.

We begin worship singing the wild hopes of the gathered – now and then.  Surely this Jesus will save us.  We join in the singing of “Hosannas” and feel ourselves swept into the shout of it.

And then the rest of the story commences.  The part about betrayals and silencing.  The part about the slinking away of the hopeful and the firing up of the machine of fear prompting the very ones who shouted hope to shout death.

It’s hard work.

Because it is so real.

Newspapers are packed full of this drama as it unfolds day after day after day.  We want our President, our mothers, our please-God-SOMEBODY to save us when all along the answer to our heart clamor can be found within and among us.

A figurehead who does all our work for us will never save us.

Jesus came to teach us a new way, a way grounded in the hard work of lived compassion and justice through our very selves and we seemed then and seem now to prefer that he would do the work for us.  The work seems too hard.

It is.  But we’re not alone in it.  The power and presence that took to the back of a donkey is in our midst yet.

Oh, may we be a people who take to our hearts and actions the living of “Hosanna”.

The world is sore in need of a break from “Crucify”.


This morning as the sacrament of holy coffee was enjoyed, I was serenaded by a male cardinal.

Amazing grace, for sure.

Here is what I know:  Spring is a heart leap sometimes too wild to contain.

I’m not sure how to thank the cardinal for his song, but I suspect is has a lot to do with ensuring that the world is safe for such as he.

Sometimes we are plain foolish enough to forget to stop and gape in wonder at the world we are blessed to tend.  This organic thing that is alive and nurtures our souls and bodies ought be at the top of our reverence list.

Creation holds us each.  How in turn will we live in this world in order that cardinals sing to our great great grandchildren?

Noticing beauty is a first step.  Pausing to give thanks follows close behind.  And then?  Then we practice the teachings of our faith which have nothing to do with subduing but everything to do with encountering the earth as God’s Body (Sallie McFague’s naming of creation).

Thanks be to the Body.

circles of life

I spent the day with United Methodist clergy from throughout the state.

The goal?  The goal was to celebrate the powerful call we share.  We named our grinches and glories, and re-membered the sense of wonder and promise that is sharing the gospel.

It was flat-out fun as well as soul tonic.

Tonight, I got an email from a friend.  She wrote to tell me that for some reason over the past few days I had popped into her mind as she was in prayer.  She wrote to tell me that she had been praying for me.

Some times the slogging gets thick, doesn’t it?  We get bogged into a sense of the immense of what we seek to midwife, no matter what it is we are called to do.  Work commences, the days pass, and somewhere along the way the sacred juice that is joy gets  parched out of us.

And then we get reminded that we are blessed blessed blessed.  The circles of love that hold our hearts and lives are alive and vibrant and present, slog or no.





My head and heart are full.

My head is full of fluids intent on silencing my world.  I’m on the second go-round of antibiotics for ear infections.  So it goes.  It’s brought to my heart a whole new compassion for those with hearing loss.  Restaurants are brutal, as is any place where ambient noise reigns supreme.  Reality feels swaddled.  I’m learning new things.

And my heart?  My heart is full of wonder.  Love is an amazing force for healing.  At my uncle’s funeral, the pain and joy that comes with family and loving was named, the holding of story was shared, and the power of healing and gratitude was passed from heart to heart.  I share family with an amazing crew of varied explorers.  From grandparents Keith and Helen came four children full of soul and zest and they made families and together we each hold a piece of our shared story.  It’s a wonder.

Church too is a coming together of each of our stories.  When we gather to name our dependence upon and grounding in the Holy, we swirl our beings into a weave of remarkable strength.  Each of our bumps is held, each of our triumphs is present, and our questions and wisdom conspire to lead us into the story larger than our own in order that we might know it to be our own.

How wonder-full is that?



Thunder is rumbling.

My dog is glued to my leg.

The house is buttoned up.  Candles are lit.

There is something about the first thunderstorm of the year (in March?!) that brings back body memories of summers gone by.  Usually I hear the rumbles and rain and am transported to the cabin, where I spent most of my summers growing up.

The sound of rain on the roof of the cabin or the bunkhouse was and is some of the finest music I know.  Rain meant cards and books and nesting.

So tonight, Zoe and I will follow time-honored tradition.


It’s wild how much ears matter.

I have two infected and sore angry with life ears.  I am on uber drugs and happy for them.  But in the meantime, I am living with a sense of the surreal.

I depend on my ears.  Last night I was the cantor for a delicious new worship adventure at our church.  We are sharing Holden Evening Prayer every Wednesday.  Each Wednesday we come together, pray and sing words shared through the centuries, and hear the faith story of one of our members.  Last night was amazingly powerful.

Even more so for me because I heard multiple pitches.  The overtones coming from the piano were perplexing:  which note was THE note?  I decided to trust myself, and asked those gathered to hold their noses to let me know I had made the wrong choice.  I didn’t see any held noses, so I have to believe I was in the right place pitch-wise.

What that did?  It freed me!  Crazy but true.  Because I knew there was potential for wild discord, I was happy with what I could do rather than hyper critical of what I heard as I sang.  I was able to sing with a bemused sort of gratitude that while my ears were wildly funky, my voice could still share powerful good news.  Our prayers do rise like incense before our God.  They do.

Now I am in Denver.  I was worried about the air pressure challenges on my plugged up friends, but it was no problem.

I am here to celebrate the life of my uncle.  I will gather with cousins and siblings and mom and we will give thanks for the zest of Peers Fawcett.

I enter this time of family still encased in the cocoon of compromised hearing.  But the faces and the light of love will shine through the muffle.

Powerfully aware that I walk in my own company, I am.

And that’s ok.


just a singer

A friend posted a great picture on my Facebook page.

It is a picture of a band; Northwind by name.  Taken when I was in my twenties, the picture shows the faces of those I made music with for years.  I was a singer in a rock and roll band.

We had so much fun.  We were a cover band, launching ourselves into sharing whatever it was that would make people dance.  And they did.

I look at the face of that twenty-something year old woman and I laugh.  The picture was taken before I knew the stretch of being a mother.  It was taken before ministry and divorce and re-familying and the bumps and grinds that have made for life.

All that I am now walked in that long ago woman; the good, the challenging, and the questions I am (still!) impatient to have answered.

Who are we, anyway?

As for me, I am grateful for the memories of reveling and music making and night upon night of the dance floor coming alive to “Wild Thing”.

It’s not unlike church.  A crowd gathers every Sunday wanting to be moved to dance, to enter in, to throw ourselves into the jumble that is life.  We want to laugh and cry and mix it up with friends.  We do it without the slop of beer to loosen us.  But the sense of wanting to be taken into an experience larger than ourselves is real.  Spirit sets the table.  We join the dance.

What I’m realizing is that  I am still a singer in a rock and roll band.

And I like it.


I was blessed to do Clinical Pastoral Education work at Saint Mary’s hospital in Duluth.

Through the program, we met one day a week for group time, spent time on call at the hospital, and most blessedly spent an hour a week in one-on-one conversation with our supervisor.

Mine was a Benedictine nun, Sister Judith by name.

She walks with me yet.

CPE is a program that helps pastors and chaplains come to know themselves as ministry instruments.  Since we are complex and lumpy things, we human folk, it is vital that we learn our flinch points and foibles.  Our beauty, too.

I engaged in CPE while I was a student pastor at a church in Duluth.  I was learning how to be a pastor to a congregation of 250 people while taking classes and parenting three small children.

It was and is a perfect set-up for craziness for those of us who want to do it all, and do it all perfectly.

At one of our sessions, after hearing my litany of woeful inadequacy, Sister Judith spoke up in her grounded and gentle way.

What she said was this:  “Elizabeth, you are enough”.

It wasn’t qualified by how many people were in church on Sunday or how well my children were doing or how many papers I had written.

It was just about me being enough.

I am home after ten days of beach walking, book reading, husband savoring and space.

The first well-known entity to greet me was my old friend “not enough”.  Emails and mailboxes and troubles and calculations of church health tumbled into the spaces of being that had been unjumbled.

I spent ten days loose in the arms of Holy enough.

I figure it’s a moveable temple.

Sister Judith, speak on!