what to say about the Charleston martyrs


artwork via

three sermons that are worth chewing on this week:

“That your Gospel is more powerful than our hate, more powerful than our despair, more powerful than our pride, and more powerful than our delusions, we give you thanks O God.”  Confession (1)

In the face of Emmanuel AME Church, Naming Goliath (2)

“Last week in Charleston, however, was different. To be sure, it’s important not to romanticize or idealize the black church, or any church. All Christian groups are riven by Sin just like all other groups. But the black churches have suffered so extremely, and so unjustly, for so long, that they have achieved a maturity that seems almost superhuman.” “What’s in those lamps?” (3)

happiness list


1. PastrixNadia Bolz-Weber‘s memoir.  Not only did it make the trip back from NYC painless, but it’s inspired me to take on a project for NaNoWriMo. Somewhere on the internets last week, I read the suggestion to write about whatever you want to for NaNoWriMo, to write in any way you want–this first-born rule-follower hadn’t thought of that!  My plan is to insert God anywhere I can in my lifetime of memories, especially in my relationships.  Nadia’s witness has made me reflect on the person of Jesus and his particularity more than I have been recently, and I’m excited to find and insert Jesus in all the dear people whose relationships have made me who I am.  Thank you, dear people in my life, for being used by God, whether you knew it or not! (whether I knew it or not!)

I’d love for you to join me–thinking about your past, considering how God might have been at work in events, people, relationships, and times in your life–maybe we could even post some here to share.


2. A super sweet surprise box of bath-time fun when I arrived home, a week out from the accident (I’m fine; the car is not so much).


3. Sisters on the Runway–last week in NYC, my super fashionable brother took me to my first ever fashion show!  It was icing-on-top that SOTR is a charitable group that both helps young designers (students at Parsons) get their work out in the world, and supports good work in the world, last week, we raised money for domestic violence awareness.


4. This past week hosted National Cat Day, or some such; I celebrated with our used-to-be scaredy-cat, Lion, who has come to be super sweet and affectionate in the last year (since she and her litter-sister, Frances, found us last October).  Good pictures are hard to find!

What’s making you smile this weekend?

so small – what I learned at Mont Saint-Michel


During our northern-France pilgrimage this summer, we went to Mont Saint-Michel.  I’d been maybe 15 years ago, but I experienced it very differently this time, of course.  It’s the most dramatic approach of anywhere I’ve ever been.  First, it’s a little spire in the distance–literally pointing toward heaven, directing all those who see and approach to focus their attention on God.  IMG_2303

It was cloudy, windy, and a bit rainy as we walked the pilgrim’s way toward the Mont (by afternoon, at the top of the post, it’d cleared up beautifully).  When you think you’re almost there, you aren’t–as you pass the dam (above) you’re actually only getting close to the pedestrian-only/official-buses-only section; the pavement ends and those on foot continue on real earth (it was sort of lovely and medieval).


Then you finally arrive, and crane your neck.  The main tower points like a finger toward the sky, with the smaller spires of the main chapel’s gothic apse joining in, beckoning your attention toward the vast expanse of sky symbolizing the vastness and the glory of God.






Just below the highest tower (below) much of it is blocked from view–you can see its fullness more clearly from afar.  In the midst of life, often it’s more difficult to contemplate the whole thing; a step back, contemplation, slowness, helps us humans, limited as we are, to take in the greatness of God and of life.


The upper main chapel is extraordinary, as are the rooms in which monks have lived, eaten, prayed, studied, and celebrated for centuries; this time, though, I was deeply affected by the Chapel of St. Martin, built almost exactly a thousand (1000!) years ago.  The automated guide told me, almost apologetically, that it hadn’t been touched much in the intervening millennium.  In classic, understated Romanesque style, this quiet, sparse, dark little room was my favorite moment of the whole day.


Can you imagine praying where God-seekers have been soaking the walls with prayers for a thousand years?  As far as we are removed for those who built this holy place for prayer and worship to the glory of God, they themselves were removed from Jesus’ time in Galilee.  When I realized that as I sat at the back of this chapel, I started to understand how small I am in the course of history and in the life of the church.

Though our lives matter–the prayers we offer and the virtues we cultivate–each one of us is tiny, miniscule, perhaps even so small as to be statistically irrelevant, in comparison to the Church (all people who have sought after God throughout time and space).  Our significance comes from being part of something much larger than ourselves, a millenia-long heritage.  Being so small is a comfort to me, though; I am not such a linchpin myself that my shoulders need bend and break under the weight.  The little pieces each of us contribute are offerings to this great God of centuries and space.

Fear not!  As pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber said recently, “The Church of Jesus Christ has survived papal corruption, the crusades, sectarianism, and clown ministry. It will survive us too.”