Transformed!

Sunday, August 6, 2017 – Year A/I

Luke 9:28-36

 

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This Sunday was the commemoration of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, known in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches as The Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ.  This event in the life and ministry of Jesus is recounted in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36) and is first mentioned in church history in the year 850 C.E.

As we read from the Gospel According to Luke, Jesus and three of his disciples, Peter, John and James, go to a mountain to pray.  In the midst of their prayers, Jesus has transformed: “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.”  Luke 9:29.  The apostles saw Moses and Elijah, appearing in glory and talking to Jesus about what was to happen in Jerusalem soon.  The author of Luke writes that they speak of his departure.  We know now that they were speaking of Jesus’ passion; his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.

Peter knows this is a holy and momentous event and offers to make three dwellings for them, perhaps with the hope that these great prophets will remain with Jesus.

If this wasn’t spectacular enough, as Moses and Elijah leave, a cloud overwhelms the apostles and they are terrified as it surrounds them.  From the cloud they hear a voice: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

What we know about this event is that it is a miracle that happens to Jesus.  He is the recipient of God’s unfathomable wonder; he is transformed by God, who shows us how Jesus is the bridge between heaven and the World, and God and the World.

The author of Luke tells us that “they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.”  Luke 9:36.  This was an incredible moment.  Perhaps it had occurred to them that Jesus really was everything he said he was and that knowledge was both wonderful and frightening.  Here was a man, their brother, a man they had eaten with, lived with, traveled with, someone who came from the same background as they, who was going to fulfill the prophecies.  Here was the man who would deliver Israel at last.

Now imagine how you would feel after witnessing something like this.  After the cloud dissipates and the voice is silent, Jesus is standing there alone.  He looks and sounds the same, the same smile, the frown, the voice.  But he’s changed and you sense it.

You are changed, too.

Just as God transforms Jesus, Jesus has transformed us.  Our faith and our baptism into the body of Christ transform us into who Jesus expects us to be in the Kingdom of Heaven:  people who love who love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, love each other as Jesus loves us and show that love in our right action and how we proclaim the Gospel every day.  Sharing the agape is perhaps the most transformative for Christians, for when we take the bread and wine we are one with Christ and our community for we are present at the Last Supper in the upper room and it transforms us as no other meal can.

I used to think, as a child, that love was only for Christmas.  It was the only time of the year that I noticed people being nice to one another.  Maturity and life in a faith community have made me understand that that is not the case, nor the way it’s supposed to be.    The transformative love and faith given to us are for every day of the year; in this, the ‘New Dark Age,’ they are essential for survival.  They are metaphorical weapons at our disposal for resistance to those who would take away our rights and alter our way of life.  When they give us hate, we show them, love.  When they want to sow division, we scuff away the line drawn in the dirt and stand shoulder to shoulder.

Love does this.  Being transformed does this.

 

 

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like . . .

Sunday, July 30, 2017: Season After Pentecost (Ordinary Time), Proper 12

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Jesus offers more teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven in this week’s Gospel from Matthew.  As he did in the preceding verses, he teaches in parables.  The Kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds that grow into a tree where birds make nests in its branches.  It is the yeast a woman mixes with flour to make bread.  The Kingdom is a treasure hidden in a field, which is found, and in joy, the discoverer sells all that he has and buys the field.  It is a pearl of great value found and purchased by a merchant in search of fine pearls; the Kingdom is the fisherman’s net that gathers up the good and bad fish, fish that are sorted – some saved, some cast aside.

As I mentioned last week, a parable is a story that is succinct and didactic, offering lessons and analogies.  Again, Jesus uses themes that his audience would understand.

This is what I’ve concluded:

  1.  The mustard seed is the Jesus Movement of the first century growing into the Christian Church, and it is the faith of someone who hears the Word and lets it grow in their heart, mind, and soul and shares it;
  2. The yeast is the Word of Christ that strengthens our faith which can sometimes be shaky or nonexistent and nourishes our souls;
  3. The field is the Good News that is discovered, uncovered and used to sow more mustard seeds of faith, grow more communities of faith;
  4. The pearl is the love of God and Christ;
  5. The fish caught in the nest is humanity.  Christ will sort the good and bad.

These five discoveries, or as Julian of Norwich calls revelations, showings, are simplistic, but they are terms that I can understand and carry with me.

The Kingdom of Heaven, then, is you and me.  Us.

The Kingdom is here and all around us.

Our love for one another despite our differences, our acts of kindness, resistance to corruption and evil, and our proclamation of the good news is what a kingdom where all are equal, all are loved, and we all work together for the good of humankind and creation, looks like and should be.  This is what Jesus wants.  We should want it, too.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a smile at a stranger and a ‘Good Morning’ as you pass by.  How many of us do that?  It is that simple and powerful.  It is one step of many, many, more.

We have work to do, my Friends.

 

 

Sowing Love and Justice.

Sunday, July 23, 2017 – Ordinary Time, Proper 11, Year A

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 (NRSV)

This Sunday’s gospel is the Parable of  The Weeds Among the Wheat.

A parable is a succinct, didactic, story that offers one or more instructive lessons or principles.  A parable is a type of analogy.  As we have read in the Gospels, Jesus uses in his parables common events from daily life that his listeners would understand, such lost sheep, family relationships, and in this week’s Gospel, sowing seeds.  Parables were often used to explore ethical concepts.

What is the concept Jesus is exploring here?  What is he getting at?

Jesus is the sower, or The Householder, the field is the world and the good seed are the children of the kingdom of heaven.  The weeds, he says, are the children of the evil one, the devil, who is the enemy who sowed them.  The harvest is the end times and the reapers are angels.  He explains, “The Son Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”  Matt. 13:41-43 (NRSV).

This lesson would be understood in the First Century, C.E. when society was agrarian. But what about ours?  Can this parable make sense to post-modern children of the Kingdom? Let’s consider this by answering two questions.

Who are the good seeds?  Children of the Kingdom, of God, of course.  The people who seek every day to make a difference in other people’s lives and make our communities places where everyone is an equal and everyone is welcome.  They are people who reach out to those on the edges of society, they are people who speak for the voiceless and those lacking power and often question authority despite the risk to themselves.

And the weeds?  Given today’s political climate and our current situation in Washington, I’m going out on a limb to say that Congress and the White House is full of weeds.

The rhetoric and the actions of Executive and Legislative Branches are choking the American people.

I don’t remember reading in the Gospel that Jesus said it was fine and good to take necessary programs like health care away from millions of people who need it so that the wealthiest of our citizens can get tax breaks, a minority of our population who can afford to spend a fortune on medical care, while the Congress makes itself exempt from the repeal they want to impose on us.  Nor has it ever been preached that a citizen working in a government job could be dismissed for ‘no cause at all.’

How long will it be before meal programs for our hungry children be taken away from schools due to lack of funding?  It becomes illegal to run food banks or meal programs out of church halls, or shelter the homeless during the night?  Or Social Security is gutted so that people who depend on the income to survive have nothing?  Social Security, by the way, is not a gift of the government.  Americans pay into the program out of their own pay as workers.  For some, it is the only income they have because pension programs may not be available to them in their workplaces.

The Government has ceased to be by and for the people.  It is for the privileged few.

The weeds don’t have to take over the field. We can pull up the weeds next year when the mid-term elections are held.

In the meantime, we can sow seeds of love and equality and justice in those patches where there are plenty of weeds and pray that they take root.

Waking Up in the Light

Hello.

I’ve returned from a ‘self-imposed exile.’

I’ve had a lot to say because a lot has been happening both in the world (unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or wisely staying away from the daily news feeds I don’t have to go into it) and in my life.  I’ve kept most of it to myself because it’s been too painful.

I recently lost a brother with whom I was getting re-acquainted after years of separation – we were on the most distant poles of political affiliation, but we were respectful of our opinions.  His life, I won’t go into, but I wish I could have done something more to help him.

My life in the secular world has become bitter.

I’m no different than many people these days; it’s just that for the first time in my life what is happening is causing physical and mental pain that actually need medication.  My strength is dwindling.

An acquaintance asked me recently, “You’re a woman of God, how does it happen that you lose faith and get depressed?  How do you live in this depressed state?  Isn’t God there to lift you up?”

And another person, a dear friend, said, “This time of year is when you’re expected to have all the answers and be smiling and happy, but you’re human.”

I’ve been pondering both of these comments and our world situation.

I still don’t have an answer, but I do know that God is sitting in the chair across from me, listening with iPad or Android tablet in hand taking notes, waiting for me to figure things out.  I’m not the type of person who believes that if I ask God for a lottery ticket, it will miraculously show up in my mailbox.  God expects me to go out and spend the dollar on the ticket if I really think I need that ticket.  I know that dollar can be put to better use.  The Lottery Ticket is a metaphor to take the initiative in all things troubling in my life.

Maybe this is my harrowing through hell.  I’ve been descending circle past circle and haven’t hit bottom yet.  Maybe I won’t.

I’m not expecting to wake up tomorrow and say, “There!  I feel better!  All gone!”  What I have to do is keep talking to God while God takes notes and notes and once in a while smiles up at me to give me a sign that I’ve got a clue.  What I do know is that I’m going to keep working through this.  A glimmer of hope and then the light came through this morning.  The light is Christ.  The glimmer of hope is that despite what others may say or think, I can be political in my thoughts and actions.

‘Church People’ aren’t only supposed to love, or be nice, ‘Church People’ are called to show what the Kingdom of Heaven is that Christ proclaims and the Kingdom is what we are striving for our of our messy, confusing, sometimes ugly lives.  Sometimes delivering the message is easy, most of the time it can be difficult.  The message I’m getting right now from God is,  “Don’t give up!

This morning, the Light that is Christ shone on Saint Stephen.

Today’s gospel from the daily office tells of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, the proto-martyr of the church and a deacon.  Today is the Feast of Stephen.  After he had been seized by the elders and scribes, Stephen was brought before the Council and offered a lesson in Israel’s history that attacked the authority of the Temple, and for this, he was stoned to death, and the Jesus Movement had its first martyr.

I am a deacon, and it is my calling to preach and prophesy to a modern world.  If ever there was a time in our history that we needed more of Stephen’s boldness it is now.  Much of the anxiety I and others are suffering is the election of a man unfit to be President of the United States and concern over what his administration will do.  There are calls for conciliation and giving the PE a chance.  We’ve seen what he’s like and what he’s done – do you think he will change?    I fear for the poor, the people of color, women, LGBT of our country, I fear for the working poor on the coasts.  Contrary to what may be thought, there are poor, working class, white people on the west and east coasts, they’re not just in the red states.

I see God tapping on that tablet and nodding.  Hmm.  Maybe keep doing what you’re doing, Ellen, but take it slow, put on that armor of light, and do it for your brother, Stephen.

And Stephen the martyr and deacon.  And all the Children of God.

Blessings,

Ellen+

 

The Cost of Discipleship

When I read this last week’s Gospel, my mind wandered to the Presidential Election this year, for in his words from Luke 14:25-33, Jesus tells the large crowds following him that anyone who wants to become his disciple must make some tough decisions and sacrifices.  Turn away from your family and friends, give up all of your possessions.  Some of this may be hyperbole, but He also asks for preparedness, to not taking something on without doing a little research.  He’s asking us to think things through.  Blind faith is not what he’s asking here.  He wants his followers to understand exactly how difficult it will be to follow him.  In the context of its times, the cost of discipleship is dear to those earlier followers of Jesus.  In order to share the good news of the Kingdom, Jesus requires total devotion, and those devoted to the Jesus Movement of the First Century C.E. trod on dangerous ground.  We know from history that the early church went through periods of persecution.  To be a Christian was a death sentence for some.   It also meant to embrace a new way of living and thinking, for time and again, that is what Jesus was teaching.  A new order was replacing the old where every person was on equal standing with God and creation.

So what’s this got to do with the strangest, scariest, nastiest, presidential campaign in my memory?

Being willing to change and more than willing to prepare oneself for a future of unknowns and accept that everything isn’t about you, but about the people in the country, to be a partner with world leaders because it all is about making the world a better and equitable place for everyone.

The Republican candidate keeps saying that he’s got some great judgment and he’s a great leader.  From what I’ve read and heard, he likes to use the word ‘great’ to describe himself and what he can do, what he’s done.  Great.  Actions, they say, speak louder than words, and that is what Jesus is asking his disciples.  Are you willing to make sacrifices like turning away from your family, are you willing to give up material goods, even your home and livelihood to follow Jesus?  This is what I’m asking the candidate.  Is he willing to sit down and take some time to think out a plan for building that tower Jesus talks about in Verses 29 to 30?   Think of the tower as our society.   Will he have enough to complete it, or will he, when the foundation is laid, realize what he wants can’t be done, and then walk away?   If he wins the election and becomes the President, will he sit in the Oval Office for one day and then realize it’s a tower he can’t finish?  Blame someone else – like those who voted for him and put him there?  And best of luck with the Obstructionist Congress, Mr. Trump; you’re white, rich, and bombastic, just like some of the leaders, but do you really think you can work with them or get them to accept your way of thinking?  Is this going to be yet another foundation with a half-built tower?

Again, Jesus tells us that to follow him will cost dearly in the way we think and live.  That follows to every aspect of our lives and should especially hold to those who wish to lead.

Jesus finished what he started.  Can we?

I know some of try every day and succeed.  Now let’s see if others can.

 

 

 

How Welcoming Are We?

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

I was the parish deacon at a large city parish for nine years.  We were across the street from a university and a good mix of humanity lived, worked and went to school in the neighborhood.  Sitting in my corner of the chancel, I used to look out at the congregation and was always amazed by, given the neighborhood’s demographics, at how white the membership was.  I’d been raised in a non-church environment but attended a Roman Catholic church and we had a good cross-section of the community there.  I was naive to think that all churches would look like my hometown church.

While I gazed at the nave I wondered, “How would we react if John the Baptist came up the nave dressed in his animal skins, barefoot, dirty, smelly?”  Without know who he was, would we welcome him just as we welcome the well-dressed, impeccably coifed woman visiting from out of town, or the university student with back pack and ear buds?  We surely had our share of homeless men and women coming in with their grocery carts full of their lives’ possessions.  They’d come in and the ushers would attend to them quietly and efficiently, sometimes they’d stay in back rows, often they’d leave.  What if, during a wedding, a homeless woman came into the church dragging a Hefty bag of belongings and took a seat on the aisle?

I could imagine the horrified stares, the looks of consternation.  That led my thoughts to wander to my days in the Roman Catholic Church when a poor divorcee and her eight children would take the first pew on the right every Sunday.  The children were shabby and tired-looking, the mother was equally so.  She knelt for her prayers and the children sat quietly.  Yet, there were people in the church who felt offended by their presence.  Why?  Because she didn’t conform to our town’s idea of what was good and proper?  Surely I was a figure of curiosity to some: my mother was divorced, we lived in the projects for most of my childhood, and there I was in the church, unbaptized, unconfirmed.  If anyone said anything or disapproved, they didn’t say it to me.

I should have been paying attention to the sermon with that look of serenity glued to my face as I sat in my pre-appointed spot in the chancel.  But I was reflecting on the differences between people and how it affects them, how Jesus didn’t care about that, how God didn’t care about differences but saw us as children of God’s own making.

Jesus, in his teaching at Luke 14:1, 7-14, instructs his followers to welcome visitors.  He goes as far as to say to give the poor guest the same respect and dignity as the wealthy person at the table.  In other words, treat everyone with the same and equal love, the same respect.  A revolutionary thought, given the time and tradition, but we expect no less from him.

Have we taken to heart this request?  Are we truly a welcoming community?

I believe that we are insofar as our hearts, minds, and resources are equipped.  We’ve had to unravel centuries and decades of societal discrimination, tradition, and thought, to recognize that we are all truly equal.  53 years ago, we were fighting in the streets of America for equal rights and unfortunately, we still have to engage in that battle today.  Yet, more and more see the other person in the crosswalk and in the coffee shop, the McDonald’s as someone familiar and someone like them and look past color, age, sex, economic class.   We struggle all the same.  The achievements made and strides taken to give everyone equality are being picked apart.  We all need to break down the barriers more than ever, because a small sector of our population led by a man who, to my knowledge, has never experienced discrimination or poverty, feels the need to pull us back to the good old days of 1940s-1950s America – days that weren’t so good for most of us, even a lower middle class, white girl like me.

What we need to do is welcome more people to the table and not care where they sit.  Then, and only then, will our society resemble the Kingdom that Jesus welcomes us to be a part of.

 

 

Days of Rest

God calls us to study the Word.  Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock
God calls us to study the Word. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

When do we rest?

What has happened to our society that people are compelled to work seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day?

I stand guilty of this charge.  I’m writing this blog on a Sunday morning, the day of the week the Emperor Constantine decreed, in the year 321 C.E., would be a day of rest in the Roman Empire.  In the Christian faith, Sunday is the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection and for many years, we literally took it as a day of rest, because businesses, shops, shops, and offices were all closed on Sunday.  The Christian day of rest was placed next to the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday and we were given the weekend.

Why should we not rest?

We have scientific proof that when one is rested  productivity goes up.  Think of that next time you work seventeen hours straight and you can’t tell your left from your right, up from down.

I’ve never liked the idiom, “You snooze, you lose.”  The way it’s applied in our culture is a reference to greed.  Isn’t it possible that a job can be productive and successful if the person undertaking the task isn’t worked to death?

On the flip side of this coin is the tradition that the day of rest be used not for physical labor but for worship of God.  In my faith, we remember the ministry of Christ and the early church as revealed to us in scripture.  We remember the history and deeds, the words of the people of Israel from our lessons taken from the Hebrew scriptures.  We enact Christ’s last supper with his followers with our own community and we celebrate his victory over death.  We take this into the week along with the messages we receive from scripture and the fellowship shared at the table.

Jesus was taken to task for curing a woman of her crippling disease on the sabbath while in a synagogue teaching.  Luke 13:10-17 (NRSV).  No sooner was she healed than she began praising God, yet the leader of the synagogue criticized Jesus for performing this work as there were “six days on which work ought to be done.”  Luke 13:14.

Once again, the message and ministry are revolutionary.

Jesus in deliberately disobeying the laws that he has honored and revered all his life; is showing that the sabbath is made for people, not the other way around.  He is proclaiming the kingdom of heaven in our midst by showing an act of love.  There is a time and place for everything.  Even on a day of rest.

Take your rest, but when God calls on a sabbath, don’t hesitate to respond.

 

 

 

The Meaning Behind the Message

Christ preaching. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

Have you ever experienced a moment when you discovered something was more than it appeared?  A goal in life was more than just a line drawn through an entry on a list?

Read Chapter 12 of the Gospel of Luke and you’ll understand what I’m writing about.  Last Sunday’s Gospel lesson, verses 49  through 56, was a fraction of the chapter and it comes across as one angry outburst if read alone.  In reading the chapter in its entirety, you see that it is a teaching moment for the crowds and the disciples following Jesus.  It follows a dinner at the house of a Pharisee where Jesus is criticized for not observing the ritual of washing before dining.  In usual form, Jesus turns the argument on its head and begins a lengthy criticism of Pharisees and lawyers and afterwards he leaves and we hear his teaching in parables.  We are witness to profound ideas here:  “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.” Luke 12:22.  Imagine being one of the thousand in that crowd and hearing this!  Jesus is telling his audience that the very things we as workaday people are obsessed with are not as important as the bigger picture. God is important.  Listening to God is important.  Looking for and recognizing the signs of the Kingdom of Heaven is important.  To drive this home, Jesus further explains his controversial ministry by saying that his message will tear families apart, using the words of the prophet Micah: “they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter…” Micah 7:6.  This did happen in the early days of the Jesus Movement.  Baptism into the faith was a death sentence for many and families and friends were divided.   These words rang true during the author of Luke’s time when the Roman authorities persecuted Christians and there were quarrels within the Jewish community over the place of Christianity, quarrels among the leaders of the young Church.

Is it a surprise that nothing really has changed?

What I believe Jesus is saying is that as welcoming and loving as his message is, if you’re going to walk with him, don’t get comfortable.  Don’t think it’s going to be easy, or that everyone will get your message and meaning and agree.  Be prepared to have a defense for your faith, be it in actions, deeds or words.  Be prepared to be rejected, mocked, attacked.  Be prepared for a portrait painted with a wide, flat, brush of assumptions of who and what a Christian is, what it means to be Christian.  Being Christian in today’s society can be difficult, especially when the criticism comes from someone who is Christian.

I stand against the racism, hatred, sexism, class discrimination and hypocrisy that are excused by some in the name of Christianity.  If I remember scripture correctly, Jesus told us to love one another as he loves us.  He made no distinction about who to love.  Everyone.  Loving is the easy part; agreeing with and accepting another’s point of view or interpretation can be like fingernails on the ancient chalkboard.  Finding the common thread that joins us can be difficult at times, but not impossible.  It takes reflection, grace, compromise, and being willing to admit to a mistake or being wrong.

I don’t agree with some members of the faith who cry out that they are being persecuted in today’s world.  Our history is rife with moments where we were the villains using God as a weapon.  The doctrinal debates of the third and fourth centuries come to mind, the injustices that came out of the Crusades, the deep divisions of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation come to mind.  The fervent, radical, conservatism of all faiths that demand total obedience to the exclusion of independent thought and interpretation, destroys and fosters suspicion and hatred.  Some of it is cast on those with faith who strive to live out The New Commandment with ears that listen and hearts and minds that endeavour to understand and do their best to share The Good News.

With God, it’s all about love and respect, with humans, it’s all about who has the most and who is in control.  Jesus is asking us to change this mindset.  There have been many, many, eras in Earthly time that were more violent, more frightening than ours, and how sad it is that we just don’t learn from the lessons, that Jesus of Nazareth’s words and mandate haven’t taken root in our hearts.

How revolutionary would it be if the next time we heard the Word twisted and bent, revised and edited, to suit a particular agenda, that we look the person in the eye and say, “I love you as Christ asks me to love you.”

That’s it.  That’s all you have to say.

Watch for the response.

It may surprise you.

 

 

 

Out of the Mist

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

I’ve been intentionally silent for the last month and a half.

My brother died unexpectedly in late June and my youngest sister had a medical emergency.

This happened while I was announcing my intention to retire from parish ministry within the Episcopal Church.

If ever there was a sign from God that I’d made the right decision for the time, these two events were pretty in-my-face.

Along with memories of playing with my brother, who was two years my senior, of being tormented by him, of re-connecting when we were both out of the house and living the single life of the early 70’s, the years of silence and recently, the stilted, uncomfortable conversations as we passed one another in the tunnel at the Powell BART station or out on Market Street, came the realization that I am also mortal.  It comes on me in the early morning, just as dawn is breaking when I wake to see blue-gray walls and the many and sundry things in the room taking strange shapes.  I’ve written about this time of day many times and will continue to do so.  I wake and I think, thank you, Lord, I’m still on earth.  Still above ground.  The aches and pains I can deal with – that’s what aspirin is for – it’s the uncertainty of how many mornings I have left that scares me.

Life has its way of making me forget about death during the working hours.  Then I am in the midst of life and out of the mist of doubt and fear.  My work for others helps them in some way, whether it be editing and formatting a brief to the Court or listening to another’s joys and sorrows, or showing how something is done, or posting something snarky about whatever happened that day in the Presidential Election Campaign.  There again is God showing me something of which I should be aware – that my time isn’t up and God’s not done with me yet.  There is work to be done and I am needed in some way.

I’m not alone in coming to terms with my mortality.  We all are born and die.  Simplistic, but true.  The first we had no control over, the second we can’t avoid but can prepare ourselves for and hopefully prevent by taking steps to live carefully – like not walking on the red light when two lanes of traffic are pouring down California Street, or stepping in front of a moving cable car to get that postcard-perfect shot of the city on a clear autumn morning.  Paying attention to that lump or bump that wasn’t there yesterday morning.   With the time I have left however many years, months, weeks, days, hours, they might be, I intend to live.

Really live.

That means finding good and joy in every minute.

Taking time to relax.

To be present.

To enjoy the gifts and people given to me.

To give thanks for a relationship with God and creation.

To be Ellen.