Words from Cliff and Pastoral Notes
Events in Charlottesville this past week jolted a lot of people. It is hard to believe that in 2017 we would witness a white supremacist march and, to add insult to injury, have a 20-year-old young man drive his car into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring many. For most well-meaning Americans, issues of racial strife not only highlight the underlying problem of racism that has plagued our society for centuries, but also present an opportunity for a real assessment of our own actions and the extent to which we can all move forward in building that perfect union where each citizen is valued and affirmed, irrespective of race or gender.
(Continue Reading…) Racism results from a kind of hatred that incites violence against one another. For many African Americans and people of color, racism is a daily experience. At school, at the mall, at grocery stores, at work, in the bus, in restaurants, and even in their own homes — wherever a person of color is, he or she faces the potential violence of racism.
Times like these make me want to find a quiet place in a church for solace and shelter, affirmation and healing. I wish to reconnect with my inner self — that true self which is beyond any form of human category, to shed a tear and embrace a kind of nothingness which is present and visible. But the church often becomes the sanctuary of those who seek to perpetuate the violence of racism because they can hide under the cover of goodwill.
Maybe, just maybe. . . . that is all the more reason why we all have to find within ourselves that zeal to turn the darkness of racism into the bright light of brotherhood.
I cannot help but to offer a preview of an important new initiative that we will be embarking upon as a community of faith. Although we tried a different version of this idea some time back, this is new and with a huge emphasis on healthy.
Beginning on September 14, Saint Paul’s will open her doors to welcome everyone in our immediate vicinity and beyond for an evening of fellowship over a home-cooked, healthy meal under the Canopy of Love.
(Continue Reading…) The term “canopy” evokes images of shelter, welcome, protection, inclusivity, and compassion. These are values that Saint Paul’s stands for, and I believe a weekly supper open to the entire community will be an extension of our ministry to those who have otherwise not been a part of our common life. More importantly, it will be a tangible affirmation that they, too, are invited to sit under the Canopy of Love over a home-cooked, healthy supper.
We are recruiting volunteers to help make this happen, and so if you are a culinary enthusiast, a fan of making different salads, have a passion for creating all kinds of desserts, or simply enjoy setting up and helping to clean, please reach out to Manny or Zach. You will be welcome to join the team which will make this gathering click.
I read an article in the National Geographic about a man who had lived for nearly three decades on an Italian Island. Mr. Morandi’s boat drifted ashore on this island in 1989, and he took over the island from the retiring caretaker two days after he drifted ashore. Since then, he’s lived alone on Budelli Island for almost three decades. He is so in love with the island that he wants to die on the island, be cremated, and have his ashes scattered in the wind.
(Continue Reading…) I was intrigued by some of the thoughts he shared, especially when he said “I’m sort of in prison here, but it’s a prison that I chose for myself.” It is a prison of sorts because although he is free to leave the island, the enchantment of life on the island is too much for him to leave behind — the beauty of creation, the seasonal changes, and the different things that he has to do. The rising and the setting of the sun, the dullness of winter, and the life of summer, all these are too beautiful and fulfilling to feel imprisoned by them. More than that, he actually communicates with all the beauty that surrounds him. And so although he is alone, he isn’t alone, because he is surrounded by beauty with which he can hold a conversation.
In celebration of the beauty of nature, our interdependence with nature, and our absolute responsibility to care for it, he says, “Love is an absolute consequence of beauty and vice versa. When you love a person deeply you see him or her as beautiful, but not because you see them as physically beautiful…you empathize with her, you become a part of her and she becomes a part of you. It’s the same thing with nature.” Maybe, once we also conclude that nature is as beautiful as Mr. Morandi sees it on the beautiful island of Budelli, we will not only care for it, but wouldn’t feel lonely even if we are by ourselves.
Our Adult Choir leaves for London this Friday, July 21. We pray for safe travels for them. They will warm up at Evensong at the Church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields on Sunday, July 23 before taking up their residence at Saint Paul’s Cathedral from July 24 through the 30th. A little pilgrim band of nine parishioners will leave Saturday evening, July 22, arriving at London Heathrow on Sunday. Please pray for safe travel for this group, as well. (Continue Reading…) Parishioners will begin their pilgrimage by worshiping at a choral Eucharist at Saint George’s Chapel sung by the Choir of Christ Church, Swindon. The pilgrimage will end at Canterbury Cathedral, where the Rector will celebrate the Eucharist for the group in a private chapel. In between, both choir and pilgrims will travel together and worship at Evensong at Saint Paul’s, where the service will be sung by our choir. Four pilgrimage stations will be attended while the choir is rehearsing in the afternoon. The pilgrims will visit Lambeth on Thursday, July 27, meeting with the Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of the Community of Saint Anselm. The choir will end its residence on the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost by singing both the choral Eucharist at Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Evensong. Then everyone will fly home on Monday. The Psalm for that day in the Prayer Book includes the verse, “My heart is so ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and make melody” (57: 7). Amen!
Over the past several days I have been asking myself how it is possible that one person would be so angry – angry enough to pull a gun and fatally shoot an 18-year-old girl with whom he was angling for space on a stretch of road. Not only has a beautiful life been cut short, but another beautiful life is about to be wasted. It may sound a little frivolous, because life is worth more than beating another person to a spot. But when you are so angry, an anger which may in part have been fueled by some sense of entitlement, anger becomes almost impossible to manage.
Scripture doesn’t dismiss or disparage anger. Rather, it questions the effects of any anger. Paul cautions in the Letter to the Ephesians that the sun should not go down on our anger. In other words, be angry, but be strong enough to manage and overcome that anger.
(Continue Reading…) I wonder what would have happened if either the victim or the killer had taken a step back and taken a moment to breathe. I learned that a pause, the simple act of breathing in, lowers anger and resettles us. I also learned that you don’t have to be the first or the best all the time. There are times when you have to be the last person, and there are times when being the best isn’t even possible. When our lives are not fashioned by a sense of entitlement or by the satisfaction of being the first or the best, we open ourselves up to managing our anger at others and even at ourselves. We even free ourselves up to laugh at situations and our very selves.
What is it that angers you? What makes you want to clench your fist and bang the table? What is it that makes you want to pull out your gun?
Whenever you find yourself in such a situation, I invite you to pause and take a deep breath. You may save yourself and a life.