I was riding the BART train from San Francisco to Berkeley the other day when I got a text from my sister Katie. "Can you remind me what you said that one time about lots of clergy not believing in God?" I waited until I got off the train and hit re-dial. I didn't know exactly what she was getting at, but it seemed unlikely that a text message would be sufficient to communicate the sensitivity and nuance that I felt an answer to her question deserved.
It turned out that Katie had found herself in conversation that week with several people--a friend, a patient, a neighbor--all of whom seemed to be deeply longing to return to church after however many years away. The problem was, they weren't sure they could go to church without being hypocritical, since they didn't really believe in God anymore. Apparently they assumed that belief (whatever that means to them) in God (whatever that means to them) is some sort of non-negotiable prerequisite for actively participating with integrity in the life of a Christian faith community.
Katie and I talked for about a half hour, at which point one of her kids started wailing in the background and she had to hang up. As she was hanging up, she threw in this quick request "Could you just put everything you said into a video or an essay or something? Because I'm never going to be able to remember what you said the next time it comes up."
It's taken me a few weeks, Katie, but here you go. Straight from the Pastor's mouth.
If you feel some sort of deep and persistent (or even vague and fleeting) desire to go to church, it is 100% permissible to go, even if you don't "believe in God." In fact, I'd say, you not only may, you probably should.
Because I believe that your desire is trustworthy and your desire is enough:
Because I believe that "Belief" is regularly misunderstood and vastly overrated:
Because I believe that church participation--in and of itself--has the potential to support the health and flourishing of individuals, families, society, and creation.
So if you find yourself among those who feel some little nagging curiosity, urge, or longing to go to church, I say: just do it! Don't worry too much about what you do or don't believe. For now, you can trust that your desire is enough. For now, you can trust that showing up is enough. (And if it turns out God is real, you can trust that S/He will take it from there.)
On January 5th my husband Donnel and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. This anniversary was particularly special, as we were celebrating it together with Donnel's family and friends in his hometown in the Philippines. I can still remember one premarital counseling session 17+ years ago in the library of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church where we explored boundaries and compared patterns of "distance" and "closeness" in our respective families of origin.
In that session, I remember Donnel describing the difference between our respective cultures and families of origin like this: "From my perspective, Sylvia's family, and Americans in general, are like hard boiled eggs. On the other hand, my family, and Filipinos in general, are more like scrambled eggs. I'm hoping that in this new family we're creating together, we can find a happy medium-- something like over-easy."
It's not just families that can be like hard-boiled eggs in upper-middle class Anglo-American culture. In my experience, we tend to opt for fairly clearly defined boundaries around everything--our families, our houses, our money, our possessions, our churches, our communities, our lives. And when those boundaries are dissolved or transgressed, it often makes us very nervous.
I suspect this was one of the roots of the discomfort and conflict that surfaced in my former parish with the influx of unhoused people into the church. The boundaries between "us and them", "rich and poor", "inside and outside", "clean and dirty" were transgressed. And whenever our boundaries are transgressed, there can be a sense that our liberty is in peril and chaos and danger are close at hand. The current "crisis" along the US/Mexico border is a case in point.
I get it. I could feel an uneasy sense rising within me as soon as we arrived in the Philippines. It's hard to say what the feeling was, exactly. Anxiety? Judgement? Perhaps the most charitable and accurate word to describe what I was experiencing is simply "disorientation."
It seemed like practically every boundary that was familiar to my upper-middle class Anglo-American context had been dissolved. In the Philippines, to my Western eyes at least, the boundaries were noticeably permeable and blurred between:
Did all this "mixing up" of people and practices and creatures make me uncomfortable? Sure it did. But as the days went by, I actually found myself relaxing into the "chaos" and coming to love it. There was real beauty and holiness in the mixing. Somehow this messy, mixed-up world felt more lively and alive, more honest and real than the more sanitized, ordered and boundaried world in which I normally reside.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After all, when all is said and done, isn't this the whole POINT of the Gospel in which I claim to place my faith? I mean, in the Incarnation of Jesus, God chooses to transgress and dissolve the boundary between Divinity and Humanity, between Heaven and Earth. How messy and disorienting is that??? And we all know how kindly the religious and imperial authorities take to Jesus and his boundary-busting. Ha ha ha. But, despite religious and imperial attempts to discipline the disorder of Jesus by nailing him to a Cross, Jesus goes on to transgress and dissolve the ultimate border--the boundary between death and life--in his Resurrection.
As we move into this New Year, I wonder if we might take a page from the Divine Playbook and dare to mix things up a little bit? Get a little messy? Will you join me in cracking some eggs? We don't necessarily have to scramble them. We could just crack them open for now. Maybe let some faith and some music spill out. Maybe let some fresh air and strangers flow in. Perhaps in the process we'll find ourselves living just a little bit more fully into the Kingdom of God.
A few days ago I arrived in Costa Rica for a 2 week Spanish Immersion course. I am staying right on the beach in Tamarindo (Pacific Coast.) Yesterday was my first morning in Tamarindo, so I woke up at 5am to pray, see the sunrise, and walk on the beach. A few thoughts came to me as I walked along the water that I want to share with you.
First, I was captivated by the reflection of the morning sky on the beach and wondered if my Iphone could capture the illusion that I was walking on the water and/or walking on the sky. Not exactly, (see below) but it was worth a shot.
The other thought I had (which is certainly not new, but was new to me) was how linguistic structures and patterns might help or hinder our mental health and spiritual journeys. I was considering how the English language, in particular, might oppose my attempts to live mindfully and reinforce my tendency to over-identify with or cling to passing emotions and experiences.
For example, in English
I AM hungry (Verb=to be)
I AM angry (Verb=to be)
I AM a woman, a mother, and a Christian. (Verb=to be)
Whereas in Spanish
I HAVE hunger/TENGO hambre (Verb: Tener)
I AM [temporarily in a state of] angry/ESTOY enojada (Verb: Estar)
I AM a woman, a mother, and a Christian/SOY mujer, madre, y cristiana. (Verb: Ser)
For me, at least, it is useful to acknowledge that, while I might HAVE hunger, thirst, heat, cold, fear, etc. I AM not actually hunger, thirst, heat, cold or fear.
And while I might at any given moment be in a state of anger, irritation, excitement, sorrow, happiness, exhaustion, etc., these states are not actually essential or permanent aspects of my being.
On the other hand I AM a mother, a friend, a partner, a priest, a singer, a dancer, and child of God.
This first day of Advent I invite you to reflect on the difference between having, temporary "being", and permanent "being."
Que tienes? What do you HAVE?
Como estas? HOW are you (at this moment)?
Quién eres? WHO are you (in the most enduring sense of true identity and core vocation)?
Pausing to pray in the midst of the monastery ruins on Lindisfarne (Holy Island), UK. The present day parish church can be seen just beyond the ruins, in upper left hand corner of the photo.
Then Jesus asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ (Matthew 24:2)
We hear some variation of this statement from Jesus in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke.) Honestly. It's no wonder they killed him. Whenever we humans are working hard to build or maintain some monumental program or project or structure or institution or business or church or other modern day "temple", this is definitely NOT a message we want to hear.
But, like it or not, what Jesus says is true. And, I believe, nestled in the (often hard) truth of Jesus' words there is always Good News.
Jesus asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’
So where is the Good News in this future Jesus promises?
My visit to Holy Island/Lindisfarne (a small island off the Northeast Coast of England) this past summer got me thinking about foundations.
Just beyond the present day parish church on Lindisfarne are the ruins of the 12th century priory. The medieval priory was built on the site of a 7th century Anglo-Saxon monastery, which in turn was quite possibly established on the site of some pre-Christian worship or devotion.
Here's the history of Holy Island in a nutshell:
In 635 St. Aidan founded the first Christian monastery on Holy Island. A century and half later, in 793, Viking raids forced the monks on Holy Island to abandon the monastery and flee to the mainland. Some 400 years later, in the 12th century, monks from the mainland re-established a religious community on Lindisfarne and built a magnificent new church on the site of the former monastery church. A small monastic community continued on the site for another 400 years or so, until 1537, when, to mark the severing of ties between the Church of England and the Church of Rome, King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of all English monasteries. Today a Christian community gathers to worship on Holy Island in a church building just steps from the old monastery ruins. But in due time that building-- and the institutions that support it --will undoubtedly crumble and fall, as well.
The inevitable crumbling of the church as we know it--along with every other structure and monument we spend our lives laboring to erect and maintain--seems somehow less disastrous when seen from amidst the ruins on Holy Island. Sure, my present pet project might be destroyed or abandoned, but in 400 (or 4 or 4,000) years another generation might well come and build something beautiful for God on the foundation of what I so painstakingly sought to erect.
Everything we build, we build on foundations left by those who came before us. And everything we build--even when it falls--can become part of the foundation on which those who come after us may build.
When we come to trust that the only true foundation on which we build is none other than Jesus Christ, then we can persevere in working with due care and diligence, but without undue pride or anxiety. We can do our small part to build something that is beautiful, solid, and useful for a time, in the full and certain knowledge that our most useful, solid, beautiful constructions are also always temporary. All will be thrown down. Which is, it turns out, actually fine. It is, in fact, as it should be.
In a few days the Church will enter the season of Advent. A season of darkness. Of waiting. Of anticipation. As we mark the beginning of the Circle of the Church Year, can we not only accept, but even rejoice in the dismantling of our old structures, old accomplishments, old monuments, old dreams?
I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.
Can we watch, unflinchingly, as our old temples fall? So that can we rejoice in doing our next small part, with God, in creating something new?
Walking barefoot in Cologne, Germany on the excavated remains of a Roman road built c. 50 AD,
Earlier this fall my husband and I met in Paris for a mini-vacation--our first experience of international travel together in our 15+ years of marriage. It was delightful and infuriating and hilarious to witness the radically divergent ways in which Donnel and I responded in the face of the challenges of the unknown.
Upon our arrival in an unfamiliar place, uncertain which direction to go, Donnel's approach was characterized by extraordinary patience and unhurried curiosity. Left to his own devices, he would study the map for 10 minutes. Then he would rotate the map 1/4 turn clockwise and study it for another 10 minutes from that vantage point. And so forth. Until shadows lengthened. And night fell. And we missed dinner. And we missed our plane. And we grew old together on the subway platform in a foreign land.
My approach, on the other hand, was characterized by bold action and impatient curiosity. "I think we should go this direction," I would announce with an air of completely unfounded authority, and begin briskly and purposefully walking in some direction. I figured, "If we're going to be lost, I'd rather be lost seeing the city than lost looking at the map." Plus I think my mother must have impressed upon me at an early age (when I was a young girl studying ballet in the big city) that, in order to avoid being mugged or kidnapped, it was important to always carry yourself with confidence and look like you knew where you were going.
For anyone who has known Donnel or me for more than 10 minutes, none of this will come as a surprise. What DID surprise (and humble) me was the chance to notice my own sense of panic and immediate resistance in the face of every new challenge and unfamiliar situation.
I would descend into the subway station and immediately think "Oh my God! Oh no! I can't do this! I don't know where to go!"
A saner version of me would say "Of course you don't know where to go. You've never been here before. You're not expected to know how to do something BEFORE you do it. You'll figure it out by doing it. That's how we learn. Besides which, that's what all the signs and maps posted all over the place are for. To help you figure out where you are and how to get where you want to go. "
Like I have said, in my head if not out loud (and somewhat impatiently, I must admit) to anxious church members in the face of new or unknown challenges about a zillion times.
In ministry contexts I've chosen and learned to embrace and cherish the necessity of venturing into unknown territory as an exhilarating opportunity to be surprised anew by God's astounding faithfulness and by unknown reserves of giftedness, resiliency, and creativity in myself and others.
It took a trip down into the Paris subway system to remind me that I can be just as anxious and grouchy in the face of the unknown as the most anxious and grouchy parishioner. (There's almost a pun in there....Paris....Parish...)
Luckily God loves all of us enough to accept us just as we are AND God loves all of us too much to enable us to remain that way.
Later this month I'll travel to Costa Rica for a Spanish Immersion course, then we'll travel as a family to the Philippines to visit Donnel's family over Christmas. And I'll get to experience (and choose to resist or embrace) the anxiety of the unknown all over again.
And so I'll get another chance. And so will the church. And so will you.
This past weekend (September 13-16) I was honored to participate in the 2nd annual New Mexico Pilgrimage for Unity, a 45 mile ecumenical walking pilgrimage through Northern New Mexico, in which pilgrims from a variety of Christian traditions-both Catholic and Protestant-walk and pray together for Christian Unity.
Last year I was privileged to participate in the pilgrimage as Spiritual Director and provide leadership for worship and prayer throughout the journey (alongside Seth Finch, pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in ABQ and David Poole, liturgical musician at large). This year I was blessed to step back and receive the rich blessing of being a simple pilgrim, led in prayer and worship by this year's Spiritual Direction Team (which included Ariel Bondoc, a Roman Catholic musician from the Philippines, Becky Glad, an Evangelical Christian from Texas, and Stephanie Gretchen, a Quaker from Albuquerque.)
Our journey began at Christ in the Desert Monastery. We walked to Ghost Ranch, and then on to Abiquiu, and at last to Chimayo.
On the first day of our pilgrimage, as we started to make our way from Christ in the Desert towards Ghost Ranch, I asked one of my fellow pilgrims, Eugene Corrales (a young Roman Catholic from Abiquiu) to teach me to pray the Hail Mary in Spanish.
I have found it useful, over the past several months, to pray and read devotional material in Spanish. I am only a (very) beginning Spanish student, but I find that by praying in my non-dominant language, I am able to approach God in a different--more simple, childlike, and trusting--way.
With Eugene's help, I prayed the words over and over again...
Dios te salve, María,
llena eres de gracia,
el Seńor es contigo.
Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres,
y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios,
ruega por nosotros, los pecadores,
ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.
...step by step, mile by mile, the words of the prayer began to grow within me--first into a movement meditation, and then into a song.
By the end of Day 1, the movement meditation had taken shape. By the end of Day 2, the melody had taken shape. By Day 3 the movement and melody carried the prayer--and me along with it--so that my conscious mind no longer had to struggle to find the words, and my feet no longer had to struggle to find their step.
At the end of the third day of walking we reached our destination-El Santuario de Chimayo. To my surprise I was greeted there by a statue of Our Lady, with the opening lines of the Hail Mary inscribed, in Spanish, above her head!
Below you will find an explanation/demonstration that I created of the movement meditation at Ghost Ranch, at the end of our first day of walking.
And below is a video of the movement meditation and song I created (with the help of pilgrim Orlinie Vasquez) during our lunch break at the Chama River on Day 2 of the pilgrimage.
If you are an English speaking Catholic--perhaps praying the Hail Mary in Spanish will deepen or revive your connection to the prayer.
If you are a Spanish speaking Catholic--perhaps praying Dios te salve Maria in movement or song will expand or renew your connection to the prayer.
If you are an English or Spanish speaking Protestant, perhaps the words, or the movements, or the melody of this prayer will allow you to experience anew the power of being carried by the prayer and intercession of Mary, who is not only the mother of Jesus but also our sister in faith.
A generous grant from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary recently enabled my preaching cohort to travel to England for a weeklong prayer and study retreat as part of our two year "Resistance Through Preaching and Song" Project. We are an ecumenical group: two ELCA Lutherans (Alex & Asher); two Episcopalians (Kerri & me); one Swedenborgian (Anna) plus one other member (not an official part of the cohort for purposes of the grant) from the Church of England (Gemma).
One highlight of our retreat was a day trip to Holy Island/Lindsifarne on the August 31st--the feast of St. Aidan.
In the church on Holy Island we found a beautiful illumination (below) including these words:
His love that burns inside me
impels me on the road
to seek for Christ in the stranger's face
or feel the absence of His touch
Before the tide rolled in, cutting off the Island from the mainland, I took off my shoes so that I could walk barefoot on the Pilgrim's Way from Holy Island back to the mainland. As I walked through sand and water, mud and sea grass, praying and pondering these words, step by step a song began to take shape.
The fire inside
impels me on the road
to seek Christ in the stranger's face
or feel the absence of his touch.
In the video below, you can see the members of my preaching group "on the road" after our trip to Holy Island, and we'll do our best to teach you the song.
The fire inside
impels us on the road
to seek Christ in the stranger's face
or feel the absence of His touch.
The fire inside
impels us on the road
to seek Christ in the stranger's face
or feel the absence of His touch.
Powerful words, huh? And challenging.
I am essentially a homebody, so any fire that "impels me on the road" is at least a little bit scary. And as a strong introvert, the demand to "seek Christ in the stranger's face or feel the absence of Christ's touch" is definitely scary.
And yet at the same time I definitely experience a fire inside that continually impels me forward--out of my comfort zone and onto the road--into challenging situations and challenging relationships that I might never choose of my own accord.
Thanks be to God, the Kingdom of God isn't built entirely on my choosing!
As Jesus says in John's Gospel:
You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.... (John 15:16)
While I might not have the power, of my own accord, to choose the path God has set before me, neither do I have the power, in the end, to deny it.
In the words of the Prophet Jeremiah:
...within me there is something like a burning fire
shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)
The fire inside
impels us on the road
to seek Christ in the stranger's face
or feel the absence of His touch.
When has the fire of Christ's love impelled YOU out of your place of safety and comfort?
What fire impels you on the road to seek Christ in the stranger's face?
When have you heeded the fire, and experienced the touch of Christ on the road or in the stranger's face?
When have you ignored the fire, only to experience the absence of Christ's touch?
In what direction is the fire inside impelling you today?
In July 2018, at the very start of my sabbatical, I had the honor of participating in several temezcales (meso-american sweat lodges), at the invitation of my friend the Rev. Virginia Marie Rincon, as part of an annual summer "curanderismo" course offered by the University of New Mexico which offers students an opportunity to explore traditional healing of Mexico and the Southwest.
In the temezcal we sang this song:
Agua vital, purificame
Fuego de amor, quema mi temor
Viento del alma, llevame al altar
Madre Tierra, vuelvo a mi hogar
en el temezcal
[Living water, purify me
fire of love, consume my fear
wind of the spirit, carry me to the altar
mother earth, I return to my home
in the temezcal]
As a priest in the "Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement", I find an easy resonance with this song. I believe that not only all humankind, but all of creation is created and called to share in God's work of healing, God's work of creation and re-creation.
Scripture and liturgy alike abound with references to the elements of water, fire, wind, and earth.
I can't help but think of the waters of baptism, the purifying fire and rushing wind of the Holy Spirit, the earth from which we are formed and to which we return, remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.
As I continued to pray this song in the days following the temezcal, a 3 part series of movements and images came to mind.
With the first repetition of the song, I imagine myself as a seed, buried deep in the earth. I imagine rainwater drenching the earth, fire sweeping across the ground above me, consuming dry grasses and trees, wind rushing over the landscape, sweeping it clean. All the while, I remain buried: waiting, gestating, in the dark depths of Mother Earth, God's Womb or God's Heart.
With the second repetition of the song, I rise up to my knees, imagining that I am the seed sprouting up from the earth. A seedling, a "green blade rising", a tender shoot I remain rooted in the earth, but begin to stretch up towards the sky. I feel myself bathed in gentle raindrops and fiery sunbeams. I bloom and flower, and release seeds which are carried on the wind up into the sky, then back down into the earth.
With the third repetition of the song, I rise to standing. I imagine that I am standing in a pool under a waterfall. The cleansing waters of baptism wash over me. A fire rises from the earth, consuming and transforming fear (and all that is not of God) from within my body, belly, heart, mind. The rushing wind of the Spirit blows the ash of the fear and falsehood (aka Ego) that has been consumed to the four corners, and carries the golden seed of my True Self--the tiny, beloved Child of God, created in the image and likeness of God--up to the heavens, to the Altar of God, then back down to be planted in the earth, the Womb of God where I receive nourishment for growth once more.
In the videos below (recorded amidst the monastery ruins at Holy Island/Lindisfarne during my recent preaching group retreat) I demonstrate this movement meditation.
I invite you to explore praying with this song, these images, these movements, these elements in the days to come. Through them, may you come to know more deeply God's healing, creating, and re-creating work in your own body, mind, spirit, life, and community.
And I invite you to share what you discover in the comments, below.
I spent August 20-22 in the San Francisco Bay Area with 20 Episcopal clergy people who are doing ministry in a variety of West/West Coast contexts, including California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and New Mexico.
This so called "West Coast Clergy Convivium" was convened by three Episcopal priests, (Paul Fromberg & Phil Brochard, Diocese of California; and Alissa Newton, Diocese of Olympia) who have been noticing that Episcopal Church conversations often feel very "East-Coast-centric", leaving the false impression that Episcopal identity is centered in places like New York and Virginia. Our conveners called us together in the hopes of discovering more about what the Holy Spirit is up to in the Episcopal Church west of the Mississippi and, in particular, what wisdom might arise from reflecting together on the cultural particularities of the Western US and ministry in our particular church contexts that could be of value to the wider Episcopal Church.
We emerged from our three days together with a set of questions and commitment to continued conversations with one another and with clergy and lay people in our local ministry contexts in the months ahead.
The questions that we will be exploring in one on one conversations in the coming months include:
So here's your big chance--if you'd like to set aside an hour to meet with me sometime in the next few months (coffee shop? bar? my backyard? zoom?) for a conversation about any of the above questions--or West Coast/Western US culture in general and its implications for ministry in the Episcopal Church--just let me know! You can FB message me, or email me.
At the close of our gathering, we were each invited to share a single word to sum up our time together. "Energized", "Curious", "Hopeful" were some of the words offered. The word I offered was "Sad". I am curious to continue to interrogate and unpack that word, and the accompanying image I created to express it (above).
Is there something particularly "Western" about the geography of the image itself? Are we, as Episcopal church leaders, like pioneers struggling to cross the rugged Continental Divide of Grief that separates the present Whirlpool of Fear that threatens to pull us under from the Radiant Yet Unknown Future to which God is calling us? The glare of the sun in our eyes prevents us from seeing that future clearly. And yet we feel compelled to press ahead...to find passage beyond fear through the sometimes treacherous Mountains of Grief into the great and terrifying unknown where God has promised to go ahead of us.
The Western Spirit of adventure and independence spurs us on, increasing the odds that we might discover some narrow, ancient path that leads us to stunning and spacious vistas we could never have dreamed of. But, left unchecked, that same Western Spirit of rugged individualism also increases the odds that we'll get stranded alone in those mountains by an unexpected blizzard or rockslide and be forced to saw off our own leg or eat our only remaining horse to survive. Or maybe worse, we'll make it through alive only to claim as our own those resources and riches that could never belong to us.
Before this half-baked metaphor runs away from me completely, I'll stop and leave you to ponder the Church, the West, and the Mountain of Sad that separates--and connects--"what's now" from "what's next" in the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.
Feel free to share your own thoughts & experiences in the comments, below. [Please don't bother sharing your opinions about my generous and unconventional use of upper case letters.]
In August (2018) I was invited to be part of a retreat with the Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. At the Boldly Forward weekend, over 2 dozen attendees explored how the lives of Mary (Mother of Jesus), Mary Magdalene, Judith, Ruth, and Esther inspire our ministries in the 21st Century.
In working with retreat organizers Cindy Davis and the Rev. Pat Green, I was inspired to create a short sung response (with accompanying movements) for use in worship.
The text is an adaptation of Proverbs 8: 1-4.
Does not Wisdom call
from the heights, on the way?
At each crossroads Wisdom is taking her stand.
To you, O people, Wisdom calls
and her cry is to all that live.
In the video below I teach the song and explain the movements.
And in this video, I sing the song, with movements, standing on the wall of monastery ruins at Holy Island, Lindisfarne.
You are more than welcome to use this song in the worship life of your own community--it might work well to welcome the Gospel (what we Episcopalians call the "sequence hymn"), or to precede the reading of any Scripture.
At what crossroads do you find yourself today?
Can you imagine the Wisdom of God standing at that crossroads, with you?
Can you hear Her call to you?
The statue (pictured above, left) is a depiction of St. Cuthbert erected amidst the monastery ruins on Holy Island/Lindisfarne. Cuthbert looks remarkably like the image I had in my mind of Holy Wisdom (pictured above, right) when I created this song and movement meditation.
My name is Sylvia Miller-Mutia, and I am a priest in the Episcopal Church. I have recently accepted an exciting call to serve as assisting clergy at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, NM with a focus on outreach, evangelism, and family ministry. I continue serving as "priest at large" for the larger church and wider world, assisting the people of God in whatever ways I can, and developing new resources for spiritual formation to share. Prior to my current call, I served as Rector (aka Pastor) of St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, NM (2015-2018), Assistant Rector at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, CA (2010-2015) and Pastoral Associate for Youth & Families at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Belvedere, CA (2002-2009). I am married to Donnel (grief counselor, couples coach, artist, best dad ever), and we have three awesome kids, ranging in age from 7 to 13.