When my husband and I found out we were expecting, we did as many other couples do and decided not to tell anyone about the pregnancy until after the first trimester. The most dangerous time for a pregnancy is the first twelve weeks, when approximately twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. We felt prudent … read more
We had just arrived back at my son and daughter-in-law’s house after the baptism of their first child at five months of age. On my mobile, I noticed messages from two of my cousins. Their mother, my mother’s only sister, my last surviving aunt of her generation, had died unexpectedly and peacefully the day before at the age of 97 years.
After years of drought, this year’s winter and spring rains have brought almost unbearable beauty to Austin. I had gotten used to a minimal landscape, the trees calligraphic in their bare-branched simplicity – and then all of a sudden the world was shaggy and colorful and fragrant with blossoms on every branch. When I run in the neighborhood around the seminary, I find my head swiveling to take in a sweet smell or a brilliantly colored sidewalk garden.
In the midst of all this blooming, three of us realized that we had significant ordination anniversaries: Cynthia Kittredge 30 years, Kathleen Russell 25 years, and my 20, all adding up to a stunning 75 years of ordained life. We celebrated the occasion at noon Eucharist in Christ chapel on April 17, by remembering also the courageous women who went before us and made the path that we walk on. You can hear Kathleen’s beautiful sermon here. What follows is the Eucharistic prayer I wrote for the day, inspired both by the physical beauty that surrounds us here and by the beauty of the work that involves us day in and day out at Seminary of the Southwest: forming students to live and lead as Christ in all the contexts to which they are called.
If you secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy Ash Wednesday as much as I do, you’re probably very familiar with its central chorus: Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. But have you ever given the logic of this line any thought? If so, you may have realized that it makes no sense at all—which is exactly what makes it so compelling.
For starters, check out the verb tenses: You are dust, and to dust you shall return. This admixture of present and future tense confounds our understanding of both time and identity. If we are something—dust, Girl Scouts, conspiracy theorists, vegetarians—how can we “return” to being that thing? We already are it. We don’t need to circle back to it in the future.
The first week of October, my husband Doug and I went exploring. We headed to Zion National Monument in Utah and to the north rim of Grand Canyon. Our named desire was to be in majestic natural beauty. We hoped for wonder. We wanted to visit places we’d not seen before. I suppose we are hungry for wide open space. Something about aging seems to have set our palates for wilderness.