25 Mar 2017

My Bucket List

            Yesterday morning I checked something off my bucket list (that list of things one hopes to accomplish prior to 'kicking the bucket'): I went for a run in Central Park. It was, by far, NOT my best run, but I did it. My body was really wanting to still be in the hotel bed, but I managed to hammer out a few miles.
            I was feeling rather pleased with myself, and treated myself to a fancy coffee on the way back to the hotel, where someone in the lobby commented on my rather rough appearance (you know how some people look fantastic when they run? I'm not one of those people. My skin goes blotchy red, I huff and puff like I'm about to blow a house down, and my current level of tiredness means the bags under my eyes are large enough to pack my luggage in.) BUT - pleased with myself, full of endorphins, about to be adequately caffeinated, I mentioned that this was a bucket list check-off.
            I was unprepared for the response I got: "Oh. Really? That's sad."
            Sad? Sad. SAD? My still tired brain wondered if 'sad' was a new catchphrase for 'exciting' or 'exhilarating' or 'empowering' - apparently not. My companion continued that a bucket list should be for really extravagant things, nothing so *simple* as a run in a park.
            I refused to deflate. Because for me, this run *was* extravagant.
            I am not a natural runner; I've had enough injuries and surgeries to make running a significant challenge. I've spent intentional time preparing for this run, so my body wouldn't (totally) collapse when I made the effort. I had opportunity to be present in New York City in the first place. I opted to spend the time and money to stay an extra day here, on Columbus Circle, so I would have easy access to the park. I made space in my luggage for the requisite shoes and clothes.  I timed other workouts accordingly, and mapped several routes.
            It was not a small feat; it was not simple; it was, for me, an extravagance. Well worth it, mind, but an extravagance: I have no regrets!
            The truth is, my bucket list includes other things that are extravagant to me, which may seem comparably simple to others. But - it's MY list. These are my dreams and hopes, and I do what I can to make them happen.
            How unfortunate that the lobby stranger could not appreciate that. However, I use the experience to reflect that as a Christian it is my responsibility to build up the kingdom of God. As such, I pray that God will help me to respond with sensitivity to others as they share with me their plans and accomplishments, their dreams and intentions.
            Realistically, when we have narrowed down to a short bucket list the things that are most important to us (whatever they are, and for whatever reasons), we have articulated a part of our inner self. And when we share that part of ourselves, we are trusting the recipient of that information to respect it and join with us in celebrating its completion.
            No matter how small or how extravagant, your bucket list is yours. Own it, love it, live it.

            I pray that you have some extravagancies on your own bucket list; that you are able to engage with those intentions and find deep joy from the journey, and that you will be supported by everyone you meet as you make those dreams a reality.

24 Mar 2017

We Have Work To Do!

            This morning, the chapel was nearly empty... only a faithful few staggering in, looking exhausted. Today was the last day of the UNCSW, and many of the normal worshippers were either departed, or slept in, or... well, they were somewhere else.
            But this did not deter the worship team. Ever energetic (really, REALLY energetic!) chaplain the Rev Dionne led us through a worship of song and prayer, testimony and poetry, scripture and blessing.
            We were reminded of the scriptural role of women as workers. We were reminded of our role as women, to be workers. We are do-ers. We are movers and shakers. We are empowered and energised to do the work of God that will bring the divine glory shining forth into the world.
            And we have work to do! Like the opportunities that face us when we leave the Sunday morning worship and engage with the world, we who attended CSW have opportunities to come back to our homes and do the work. We carry the policy spirit of the CSW, and the spiritual sisterhood of our faithful sisters (and brothers!) form our time here, and the Spirit - that holy wisdom who stirs up all of creation and fires up a passion for mission and ministry within us - that Spirit will be carried with us and through us in the work that we will do.
            So during worship we were asked: what will we do - really do - as we headed home. The answers we shared were realistic: we will work, teach, pray, sleep (it's been a long 2 weeks!), share, write, commit, preach... we will continue to live out the reality of empowering women.
            The CSW Agreed Conclusions have been made, with strong commitments to gender justice through economic empowerment. Some of the issues directly addressed include the pay gap, decent work, the care economy, technological advances, parental leave, the 'pink tax', women in directorial and leadership roles, and a focus on indigenous women's economic empowerment. You can read the press release here
            So we have work to do. We all have a responsibility to engage with these conclusions, with this work, with this ministry. It is now in our hands if we will act with integrity, with one another and with our governments, to make these agreements a reality.

            May we rise to the challenge. May we overcome our tiredness, our lethargy, our apathy. May we recognise that an injustice to any one of our society is a detriment to us all. May we live our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of all and to seek Christ in everyone - regardless of gender or race or language or nation. May we become the generation who will make gender injustice a thing of the past. Sisters: brothers: we have work to do!

The Perfect Word

            This day was a full day of writing and wordsmithing. And more wordsmithing. And then some more! The Anglican Communion Delegation prepared its statement for the Anglican Consultative Council.
            Anyone familiar with group projects knows that this is not always the easiest, but that sometimes when the Spirit wills it, the words simply flow.
Our experience today was of the latter variety. We had asked for input form all of the delegates, on learnings and experiences and take-home messages.
            The words flowed. Our document brought together a summary of who we are as a group, a section specifically focusing on the youth voice, a synopsis of our learnings in the three main areas, our learnings from the experience, and our hopes for what we would like the Anglican Consultative Council to think about or do as a result.
            It is, we believe, a good document; but it took a lot for us to find the perfect words to convey our message. We were aware that we were speaking with many voices, in several languages, from varied cultural backgrounds. We were blessed with a great group of people who made every effort to collaborate.
            We were also aware that as we were writing our statement, negotiations continue for the Agreed Conclusions Document, which will articulate the formal outcomes and decisions from the proceedings of the past 2 weeks. While our ACC statement is substantial enough, the Agreed Conclusions will be life-changing for countless women who are experiencing and working for gender justice.
            The words matter. The right words matter. Taking the time to find the perfect words is time well spent.
            And we began the process of finding the perfect words to say our farewells to one another: after nearly 2 intense weeks of living as a cohesive group, our group has started to head home, one sister at a time.
            So we focus on finding the perfect word to convey our hope for equality, our commitment to justice, our passion for empowerment. We find the perfect words to say we are better for having met one another, that we intend to stay in touch, and that we are sisters in the Spirit forever.
            We found those words: "Peace and love, sister. Blessings on your journey."

            May we all be sent forth into the world, into our ministries, with such perfect words.

23 Mar 2017

Let Justice Flow Like Waters

            This World Water Day, how much consideration have you given to where your water comes from? And where it goes? And how much you use? From toilet flushing to cooking, from the irrigation for our food to transportation and industrial cleaning: we use a disproportionate amount of water.
            Today I had the privilege to engage in many discussions on that topic. At a CSW session by UN Human Rights Network, Chief Caleen Sisk shared that we are *all* water people, yet have sadly lost our connection to the land and water systems which has made us consider water to be less than sacred. With women and minorities most impacted by environmental devastation, the panel articulated the interconnection between gender justice and water justice.
            In the opening homily for the Trinity Institute Water Justice conference, the Most Rev. Halapua (Archbishop of Polynesia), spoke of the spiritual significance of the gift of water, reminding us that even the clouds above us are water. Yet, we continue to abuse our water and therefore abuse God's creation. As speaker (former) Senator Barbara Boxer described, we are charged to take care of God's creation, because if we destroy it there will be no one after us who can fix it.
            Water is something that we in western dominant society tend to take for granted. We presume someone else will ensure that we have sufficient and clean water. We remain ignorant of how our waterways affect our very existence, and how they are impacted by us. They remain the circulation system, the bloodlines for the planet.
            Something else we take for granted, and presume to be under someone else's care, is the call for justice. But imagine if we did better; imagine if we recognised that justice needs to be as fluid as water, as prevalent in our ecosystem, as necessary for life. Imagine if we moved every desire of our hearts to align with the great gift of God, and used existing channels to flood the world with justice and righteousness?
            This is not a new concept; yet it remains an on-going challenge.  It is a message that we have had for centuries, the expectation to "let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (Amos 5.24)

            And it is as timely now as it was then. I hope we take this world water day to enjoy the access we have to water, the opportunity to learn more about our own water usage, the privilege to appreciate our abundance of water as an invitation to share our access to justice and righteousness just as freely. May we flood the world with the presence of God, washing all we encounter with the greatness God has given us to sustain.

21 Mar 2017

Such a Time As This

The Feast of Esther (Feest van Esther, 1625)
Jan Lievens.
            What is your passion? Right now, at this moment, what inspires you? What encourages you? What empowers you to take action in the world?
            Today I had privilege to hear Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preach at a special Eucharist at the Chapel of Christ the Lord at The Episcopal Church offices. He passionately retold us the story of Esther, and connected the message to the work of the UNCSW.
            His message (and mannerisms!) were energising: commencing with the basic framework of being a child of God. We are all made in God's image, he said, male and female, God created us. On equality, Curry said "God didn't create some with a little bit more, and some with less... God made us all in His [sic] image."
            Then he detailed how God worked through Esther, however unlikely, to bring about change for God's people living through inequitable and oppressive situations.
            Esther's passion was to serve God and save her people. Michael Curry's passion is to preach the Good News of God. The CSW's passion is the work for gender equity and justice.
            So again I ask - what is your passion?
            And once identified and articulated, what are you doing about it? What real actions are you taking to make your passion a reality? How are you persisting in your mission and ministry? What fears are you facing and overcoming to engage that passion in meaningful ways?
            Admittedly, it is not always easy - even Esther wanted to maintain the (favourable to her) status quo; but was willing to do the right thing, at the right time, for the love of God.
            Bearing that in mind, I pray. I pray for timely discernment as individuals and as communities. I pray that we might all find our passion for living the Good News of God. I pray we might all be spurred into action to bring justice and peace into this world. I pray that we might all celebrate God's power working in and through us to bring about God's kingdom.
            I pray that we all might be Esther, empowered and encouraged to bring to fruition the promise of God's salvation, here and now, to a hurting world.

            So arise, Esther. Perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.