Growing in Gratitude: 633,782

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Originally I was hoping this post or one like it would be what would mark our move day, but honestly I simply too exhausted to move when we finally got everything unloaded and the essentials ready for our first night in our new home.  After my forced sabbatical during the time of no internet and my struggle to get back into the habit of writing daily, I am finally getting a chance to put thoughts to paper about moving into our first home nearly 2 weeks to the day of our move.  All in all given all the upheaval I’m willing to cut myself some slack on delaying this reflection.  I hope that’s okay with y’all.  [smile] Below is the start of the post I was writing on move day.  My added thoughts begin after the italics.

Today was move day! We arrived around a quarter to 10 and unloaded our big UHaul with the help of some great volunteers from the church and Caleb’s parents. [smile] After the boxes were unloaded, the first thing we did was head to the bedroom to ready our bed for this evening when we would collapse from exhaustion. We have a bed to sleep in under a roof that is our very own! We are so blessed.

For the seven weeks we were without a home of our own I wrestled with how to describe our situation. While in transition, the word that seemed easiest to use was also a word that carried with it so many connotations that I paused each time it escaped my lips.  Homeless.  In a literal sense of course we were without a home, but after living for three years in a city with one of the largest homeless populations in the country its hard not to think twice about using that word so casually.  Although for seven weeks we were in transition, we were not one of the 633, 782 individuals who were without a safe place to sleep.  Although for seven weeks we lived out of a suitcase, we were not one of the 633, 782 individuals who didn’t have a place to store those belongings during the day.  Although for seven weeks our daily routines of life were interrupted, we were not one of the 633,782 individuals whose health and well-being was threatened by the hardship of not having a home.  Despite whatever inconveniences we experienced during our brief stint between homes, we were blessed and I am grateful.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, approximately 633,782 individuals “experience homelessness on any given night in the United States.”  Can I just say for the record that I think that is 633,782 people too many?

Today I am thankful for my home and I cry out for justice for the 633,782 persons who remain unhoused.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

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Growing in Gratitude: Ritual

I’ve rehearsed this post for a few weeks in my mind.  Given that today we will be participating in a great deal of ritual… have I mentioned we are graduating from seminary TODAY! [smile]… it seems like the right time to write.  Yet I feel like these thoughts are still just in early formation so please forgive me if they sound that way.

I first began to think about the blessing of ritual near the end of April when one of our pastors ended a sermon series titled “Spiritual, But Not Religious” with a sermon all about it.  It’s been a several weeks since I heard the sermon, but I’ll try to summarize.  Ritual is accused of being stagnant, dry, or unchanging.  Sometimes, he shared, people allow ritual to be a barrier to their joining in a religious community.  Yet the repetition that is ritual is life giving because it encourages us to posture ourselves in a way that invites us into community with each other.  This is the part that I think Caleb liked most about the sermon because Charlie used a scene from The Karate Kid as illustration of his point.  [smile] You remember when Mr. Miyagi has Daniel wash and wax his car– “wax on, wax off”– and Daniel gets frustrated because he feels like this has nothing to do with learning karate.  Then Mr. Miyagi reveals that these repetitive actions were training his body to move in the ways he would need to for karate.  Ritual works in the same way attuning our hearts through repetitive actions to worship in a community of faith.

Ritual also can be a point of connection.  Here’s where I’m feeling particularly blessed by ritual today.  The graduation ceremony we will participate in later today will follow the format of last year’s graduation ceremony and the year before that and the year following.  We will process in.  We will walk across the platform to receive our diploma.  We will commit ourselves to being in service to the world.  We will process out.

The Charge to the Class of 2013:
Called by God and the church, we now go forth to be God’s people in the world. Our calls come in many forms, yet we have all said: “Here I am; send me.” Having been trained, nurtured, and challenged in seminary, we now seek to share God’s love and justice through service in the world.

The shared experience of this graduation ritual connects us with a community of former and future students of Wesley and for that I am thankful.  The ritual of graduation solidifies my connection with a community of persons I have come to know well and love dearly.  The ritual of graduation connects the work Caleb and I will be doing to seek justice, show mercy, and encourage loving-kindness with the work of this community of graduates and the community of former graduates and future graduates.  Oh what a blessing is this connection!

Today I am thankful for ritual.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

“We look like tourists.”

The roller coaster that will be Graduation Week starts today.  My parents arrive midday to BWI and we couldn’t be more thrilled!  So excited that we will have a few days with them to show them our DC before the rest of the family arrives this weekend.  We haven’t seen them practically all year!  Caleb’s spring classes began on January 2nd so we had to leave Georgia on January 1st.  It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for this day to come.

We have been preparing for their arrival and are basically finished with the bulk of packing, but the apartment is kind of a wreak– remnants of boxes and packing material everywhere.  Even though we can’t show them our best “home” I still want it to be clean so I’ll have to make this post short.  Insert classic photo dump blog post here.  [smile] Fortunately I have the perfect set of pictures to share.

The Seminary Gang: Group Shot at the end of DC Day

The Seminary Gang: Group Shot at the end of DC Day

Last Friday, we joined some seminary friends for “DC Day.”  We’d planned this day as a way to wish this fair city we’d called home over the last 3 years a fond farewell.  We had a perfect day: weather was lovely; crowds were relatively low for a Friday in tourist season; we ate at some of the most fun restaurants; and even got to visit a Senator’s office.  We looked like tourists and it was so fun!  Photos are courtesy of the wonderful Jana Hogg, seminary cohort and actually the person who introduced us to each other.  Hope you enjoy following along with our adventure.

-Margaret

Love this shot!

Love this shot!

Watching Caleb interview for Russian TV.

Watching Caleb interview for Russian TV. I was so nervous I covered my ears!  Not sure how that was going to help.  [smile]

Caleb's interview for Russian TV

Caleb was randomly interviewed for Russian TV outside of the White House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside the my favorite place in DC- Library of Congress!

Outside the my favorite place in DC- Library of Congress!

 

Us with Jana and Chase

Us with Jana and Chase