In a conversation the other day there was appreciation expressed by those gathered about a family in our church.

Their children are amazing, as are all children.  There is a something more, though, about this clan, and the gathered women got to wondering about what it was that set those kids up to shine so fully.

My sense about one of the reasons for shine?  The parents know that they are the parents.

There was a columnist, John Rosemond by name, who used to have a syndicated column on parenting that ran in the Duluth paper while I was raising my babies.

He was a no nonsense kind of guy.  He was often blunt and gray seemed not to be in his color palette.

What he stressed was that kids need boundaries and limits.  They need the comfort and relaxing good of knowing that their parents are in charge.  They need to know at age 6 (or 2 or 16), when they are not equipped to run the world, that their parents will step up and make the hard decisions and set the limits that need setting.

I think he is right.  Saying “no” and maintaining chains of command is not always popular.  Kids are wired to push up against the authority we seek to maintain.  It’s how they learn.  They will fuss for sure and push all the buttons their clever and intuitive souls know how to find.

But in the end they will thank us, I believe.  The world is an anxiety-stirring place.  Knowing that they are not in charge of the big things (and sometimes even the little things!) helps children to explore their worlds safely and with confidence.

The other thing Rosemond stressed was the need for parents to order family life in such a way that they take time for themselves; both as individuals and as a couple.  When our lives are solely focused on our children, we send them the wrong message and for sure it is a set-up for disillusionment when they leave the nest and discover that the world does not revolve around them.

It’s been awhile since I was in the kids-at-home trenches.  It is hard and heart-stomping work, raising babies.  The list of needs is endless and the list of anxieties about doing it right (whatever that means!) is endless as well.

And, it’s the most important work I’ll ever do.

God bless parents.  May we find the patience, strength, joy and forgiveness to keep on keeping on.




A retreat with 30 women.  Two worship services.  This and that to tend to and then a gathering of souls who will travel together to Ireland in September.  48 hours of intense good are bouncing around in me.

Retreats are a lot of work for everyone.  Emotionally, it takes a lot for women to take the time to get away.  There are kids and dogs to provide for while gone.  And, there is the great emotional leap of courage that it takes to give over to someone else the charting  of the rhythm of the days.  All this with unfamiliar sleeping partners and sometimes challenging beds.

Planning for retreats is an act of faith.  Chemistry is a fickle thing.  I’m never sure what the vibe of the gathered will be, so I plan and pray and let go and trust that something will touch someone somehow in the course of our time together.

Always, as I look at the faces of the gathered and as I experience the ways they weave themselves into something never before experienced;  always I am moved.  So it was this weekend.

On this Sunday night after many chances to be in varying circles of faith seeking and faith grounded folks, I am amazed by those who show up, who say “yes”, who enter in, who bring their sacred selves into the power of community.

As tired as I am, I want more.

After a nap…


can we just get along?

I was in a meeting last night with a woman a generation younger.

We were talking in said meeting about how to offer community to people who have no relationship with “church”.

She made a comment that I know is real but for some reason it sounded with added power in my belly.

She said that as we seek to be in relationship with non-church folk, we have to be impeccable with our actions.  They are tired of our hypocrisy, these folk, and are watching to see that our words and our actions square with each other.  Otherwise, we’re just another group of hucksters on the make (my words, not hers).

Her words jangled because one of the hardest things about being church is that we are a collection of human beings.  As human folk, we bring into our churches all the wounds and ways of being that we learn along the way.  Sometimes, we keep our woundedness and barbs neatly cloaked in our professional lives but let them fly in our private worlds of home and, most challenglingly to this pastor, church.

Churches are challenging and messy things.  Our souls must feel safe enough to take the risk to be vulnerable to grace.  So we talk a lot about acceptance and love in order to make room for light, but sometimes that vulnerability gets slashed by members who forget that the way of Jesus is surely about knowing our God-created goodness and it is very powerfully about seeing the Holy in each and treating each other accordingly.

Church is not an “anything goes” place.  We’re a place where we ground ourselves in the teachings of Jesus and help each other grow into full Holy-reflecting humanity.  When we bicker and slash and judge and wound each other, we hurt hurt hurt a tender trust.

And, the world is watching.

My belief is that people who enter churches smell the emotional air.  At a core level, a sense of “safe or unsafe” is registered.  If people in the church are observed as respectful of each other and graceful about differences, new folk feel perhaps safe to engage.

If tension and seething feuds are sensed or outright observed?  Seekers chalk it up to yet another hypocritical club they want no part of.  They take the wild courage and hope they summoned to walk into a church for the first time out the door with them.  They don’t come back.

So how are we doing?  As individuals and as a collection of relationships called church, how are we doing?

My prayer is that we own the challenge it is to live the teachings of Jesus.  And, when we are tempted to lash out or gossip or indulge in drama or build posses or block the soul expression of others; I hope we are aware that we are not alone.

The world, the community, our children, seeking people.  They are all watching.

And oh there is this:  so is our Creator.  The very creator who gave us one another in order that we might practice the fine art of loving.

It’s messy powerful crucial foundational work.

We can do it.



The computer is set up in the basement.

A nest has been feathered.

Jameson is home.  Just for a time he is cloistering himself in our home in order to do all things necessary for finals.  We have internet, true, but I suspect he is tapping into a wisdom that tells him that his chances of being led not into play temptation are greater while residing at home.

I purr when there are offspring about.  I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that I just can’t seem to get over the wonder of their being.  And, I really like them.  Between Cooper and myself we have six interesting, engaged and dangerously funny people we get to call children.  It’s amazing.

Having these opportunities to share morning coffee and informal down time are precious.  Finals will end and Jamie will be off to the house he shares with countless others.

For a time, though, some homing instinct in his heart led him here.

My heart gives thanks for the simple wonder of love; that’s all.

That’s everything.


I love the long ago disciples of Jesus.  They spent a lot of time clueless and terrified.

And yet those bunglers are the best kind of teachers because in our lived solidarity with their ineptitude there is such hope.

Easter and Eastertide are such a wallop of emotional power.  There is such despair and such hope and such desperate need to find something that makes sense that might be future-shaping and given the body-wriinging of crucifixion and resurrection and road walking, Jesus is so patient!  When encountering the lot of them after his resurection, the first thing he says to them is “Peace”.

It seems he knows that while terror bound it’s near impossible to allow anything in.

I’m feeling such gratitude for the power of a Holy heart that knew that what is needed is a beat or two of peace.  What he taught those disciples after he rustled up something to eat is that when we allow ourselves to be open to peace and to hope and to the good of unclenching, there is room for breath;  deep and grounding and freeing breath.

I’m feeling a deep sort of compassion for the clench of the world.  We all want, we all need, we all ache for peace and all along?

That peace is.   One breath at a time.

both and

In her poem “The Art of Blessing the Day”, poet Marge Piercy says:

“We must remember, pleasure is as real as pain”.

Last night Gloria Steinem enjoined those of us present for her presentation to tend to pleasure and joy and gratitude even as we work with all we have to change systems of oppression.

Pleasure is as real as pain.

For five days last week, I was immersed in pleasure.  I spent time with three beloved clergy sisters in Portland, Oregon.  We were there to savor the gift of deep friendship and we were there to play.

I woke up each morning giving thanks for the great good of not knowing what was on the agenda.  I had space to savor and give thanks for the blast of joy that was Easter, as well as the deep worship of Holy Week.  I celebrated the amazing beauty of the land and the wild goodness of being with kindreds in whose company tears of all varieties are shared.  Laughter-induced pain is fantastic ache.

There is work to do, to be sure.  I am not the most patient of people.  There is so much pain in the world that gets doled out from human to human and yet, pleasure is as real as pain and I was in it.

Oh yes I was.



gloria steinem!

I was in a room tonight with Gloria Steinem.

There were hundreds who gathered in St Louis Park to hear her speak about Feminism as the longest revolution.  

“Tell the truth, and discover in the telling that you are not alone in that truth.”

“Infuse everything you do with the values you want to see realized.”

What was shared in the room full of hopeful and committed hearts was the conviction that the world longs for a better way of living in community.  It can be brought into being, this way of living that honors differences and seeks the fullness of life for all.

It will be done through deep listening and a sense of reverence for the power that is our ability to see the sacred in all.

“The means are the ends.”

What was shared was a sense of compassion for all – men and women alike – who have been mangled by a “power over” way of living in community.  It just doesn’t work.  We know this to be true.

Instead, conversation by conversation, living the vision as we seek to birth the vision, we have the opportunity to live into a more fulsome way for all genders.

I want that for my daughters and for my son.  I want that for the tender promise that is the future.

I want that for all.  

Now would be good.




Leaving town is a spiritual practice.

Whenever I am making preparations to be gone for a time, the worries raise their voices.

For example, I seem to be convinced that if I am in close proximity to my beloveds I can keep them safe.  It’s a fine fantasy.  If I’m in my zone, somehow my people are safer.

Church details feel monumental.  Our church has the best staff bar none and a wondrous crew of retired clergy.  There should be no worry.  Should is the operative word.  Worry I do.

Like so many other things, I suspect thriving happens when space is made.  Offspring turn to each other or their step-Coop.  Pets are tended.  Church folk know the power of community.  All these things are good.

And for me?  Stepping out of my self-appointed role of keeper of well-being is flat-out crucial.

I’m off for five days.  Preparing to leave has lessons to lend.

Perhaps the spiritual discipline most necessary for digesting a magnificent Holy Week is the sacred revel of fun.

I can work with that.


I was held by two churches in one day:  both I have given my heart to.

I spent the afternoon in Duluth at the funeral of a beloved spiritual guru.  Armas was 95 when he died.  The place was packed with huge hearted people who came to give thanks for the ways he breathed questions and spark in the world he so loved.

In the front row was his Men’s Bible Study group.  In the congregation were people who had shared the work loves of his life: justice making, question asking, meaning making and savoring.  His heart team was there to name his glory and give God thanks for the privilege of sharing life with him.

I motored back to Minneapolis for two church meetings.  Around each meeting table were members of teams (in church speak, we call them committees) who give their time and their hearts in order that ministry can happen.  We are varied in opinion and sensibilities, but we are woven together in order to set the stage for transformation.

It is no small thing, this being a part of a team.

Tonight I am full of wonder and gratitude.  Paying tribute to a man who knew the need for community, followed by encounters with circles of folk who live that need in order to share it.

It was good.  It is good.