2010 spiritual path letter

Each year I send out a spiritual path letter to select friends along with our Christmas card. If you've been following my blog this year, you know what I'm going to say, and what is here will be old news. Still, I wanted to share it with you because I think it brings together in one place my spiritual evolution over the past several months.

1 Advent 2010

I ended last year’s spiritual path letter by saying “So, perhaps, for me, 2010 involves continuing to place emphasis on the value and necessity of community.”

So it has been. But not in the manner I expected when I wrote that.

I had resisted Facebook for a very long time, but finally succumbed in mid-2009. Two of my first Facebook friends were Episcopal clergy from my All Saints’ days. They had a lot of Episcopal friends, mostly clergy, and the number of Episcopal Facebook friends I had increased, it seemed, exponentially. Seeing posts from all of these people on an ongoing basis made me realize how much I missed the Episcopal Church.

I should probably remind you how I ended up in a Lutheran church in the first place. After moving to Gilroy I commuted to All Saints’ for a year before I realized that I couldn’t keep that up. The Episcopal church in Gilroy was way too conservative for me, and the Morgan Hill church was going through a rough patch and was without a rector. I spent a year at St. Stephen’s in-the-Field in South San Jose, but that didn’t work out for reasons I won’t go into here. So I was looking and found Good Shepherd, which was sympathetic to Episcopalians in my predicament and had a wonderful organ and a fine organist. I was happy there for a long time.

But, as so often happens, a confluence of events precipitated change. There was some dissention going on at Good Shepherd which ultimately prompted bringing in a consultant. And there was the ubiquitous presence on Facebook of all my Episcopal friends.

I knew that things had turned around at St. John the Divine in Morgan Hill, and when I could steal a Sunday away from my responsibilities at Good Shepherd I would visit there. I loved what I experienced, and was so happy to be back in Episcopal worship. I made the change permanent at the end of August.

I would like to say that it was simply a matter of wanting to be back in the Episcopal church, and not an issue of getting away from what was happening at Good Shepherd. But both Terry and my spiritual director saw a noticeable change in my demeanor after making that decision. And, I have to admit that I even noticed the change myself. I realized that on Saturday evening I was thinking, “I get to go to church tomorrow,” and not “I have to go to church tomorrow.” In retrospect, what I wrote here last year, “Often I’d like to stay in bed on Sunday morning and pull the covers over my head, and then have my own personal quiet devotional time” might have served as an early warning. But then hindsight is…

 So I’m back in the Episcopal church and am delighted about it. Looking forward to a year of spiritual insight and unfoldment.

 A joyous and happy Advent and Christmas to you!

the Advent season

Advent began yesterday. It's a little early this year.

My Facebook friends have been complaining since well before Thanksgiving about the early onset of Christmas music. I agree. For myself I would just as soon not hear Christmas music until the fourth Sunday of Advent.

Advent, after all, is not Christmas. Of course not everyone feels that way.

A Facebook friend of mine early last Advent commented something to the effect, "It's starting to look a lot like Advent and Christmas around here." I rashly responded reminding him that Advent and Christmas are not the same. In a more rational moment I later removed the comment. I am not, as my spiritual director pointed out to me, the Advent police.

So I will work to observe Advent as a time of waiting and expectation. If others want to get into the Christmas music now that we're past Thanksgiving, I'm going to do my best not to judge. But that may take some effort on my part, so no promises.

Advent, I will try to not keep repeating, is not Christmas.


pressure cooker Thanksgiving

Normally we have plenty of capacity in our kitchen. But yesterday was Thanksgiving. We usually roast our Turkey, but Terry had a butternut squash recipe that she wanted to do in the oven, and I wanted to see how our Turkey breast would come out in the pressure cooker. So we were different this year.

Terry did the squash in the oven. I did the turkey breast in the pressure cooker with a cajun rub and sherry. Terry did her spinach, poached pear and pomegranate salad. I made Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and at the last minute decided we needed rolls from scratch. We had cranberry sauce on hand and Trader Joe's turkey gravy. We pulled a Navarro Gewurztraminer out of our wine cooler.

It all came together, and came together manificiently. We've had some marvelous Thanksgiving dinners, but I think we outdid ourselves this year.

What a great day and so much to be thankful for!

(promised Advent blog on Monday)

Happy Thanksgiving

To all of you who celebrate the holiday: Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful day!

prayer is

I often struggle with what prayer is or should be all about, and it is a frequent topic of discussion with my spiritual director. I was therefore struck by this quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel from The Wisdom of Heschel, courtesy of the good folks at inward/outward.

  Prayer clarifies our hope and intentions. It helps us discover our true aspirations,
the pangs we ignore, the longings we forget.
It is an act of self-purification….
It teaches us what to aspire to, implants in us the ideals we ought to cherish.
Prayer is an invitation to God to intervene in our lives,
to let God's will prevail in our affairs;
it is the opening of a window to God in our will,
an effort to make God the Lord of our soul.
We submit our interests to God's concern,
and seek to be allied with what is ultimately right.


It was the Boston Pobble who reminded me that we can have both-and and that it doesn't need to be either-or.

When I first suggested that we get an electric pressure cooker, Terry objected saying that she liked my old stove-top pressure cooker with the jiggling weight regulator on top. It reminded her of growing up in the mountains and her grandmother's pressure cooker.

When I became convinced that an electric pressure cooker would be a real boone to our weeknight workday cooking I told Terry that it could be both-and. We'll keep my stove-top pressure cooker with its "old style jiggling pressure regulator" (to quote a pressure cooker guru who will go unnamed) and use it for beans. But we can buy an electric one too.

It's worked out well.

When I was having a hankering for Chicken Cacciatore from one of my new Pressure Cooker cookbooks, Terry said she wanted veggies. I followed the recipe and threw in some veggies as well.


Thank you Boston Pobble. (And Tahoe Mom's husband Dean for having done all of the advance work and making it an easy process for me.)