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Epiphany IX

Embodied Practice: Three Crashes from the Past Week
I stood looking at my things for the Prayer and Pastoral Care class: papers, books, chime. I was missing my water and one book. My watch said I had about three minutes before it was time to start the class. Just enough time to run up to my office and back down to the classroom. I turned quickly to my left and headed for the door. Half way there: Crash.

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Epiphany VIII

The wisdom of a tree . . . Trees show up a lot in my poetry and life. This afternoon a look at some trees reminded me of this journal entry from September. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina for a meeting. I was feeling a bit lonely and bereft in the midst meeting. I ended up on a bench outside. Here is what I wrote. I turned at this moment on the bench and realized there was what I needed – right in front of me – a very large tree.

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Epiphany VII

Laundry. It seems like a good night to write about something mundane. And besides I’m doing laundry while I write. Multi-tasking is such an unexamined part of life for most of us. We do the laundry, run the dishwasher. Back up the computer. All while we’re taking out the trash. Or we send three emails, write a blog, pay the bills and post on facebook, all in an hour on the computer. Does this way of life really accomplish more? Or is it just a sign of an overly-busy and distracted existence, endemic to the middling classes?

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Epiphany VI

This Epiphany season one image keeps flitting through my mind. I snapped this pic of a statue of Jesus at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill last fall. I was there with a group of faculty and students from Luther Seminary sharing the experience of Pray and Break Bread. When I’ve visited churches of the neighborhoods of the Twin Cities I’ve found it interesting to ask this question: “What does Jesus look like here?”

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Epiphany V

Being here on campus this week reminds me of that first trip as a new hire. I arrived late in the evening to the snowy winter dark. The next morning I went in search of breakfast. I hoped I could remember where the dining hall was. I found it (eventually), but I felt disoriented at every turn. I couldn’t even decide what to eat. And I was slightly nervous about my first day on the job. When I finally managed to get a bowl of oatmeal together and some toast, I stepped up to the register to pay.

It was J-term which meant there weren’t many people in the cafeteria at 7:30 a.m. There was no line. I put down my food.
“You don’t owe anything,” the cashier said.
“Do what?” I sputtered.
“Someone already paid for your breakfast.”

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Epiphany III

Storytelling . . .

In 2001, as I was working my way through doctoral courses in Religion, Psychology and Culture at Vanderbilt, I read pastoral theologian, Andy Lester’s book, Hope in Pastoral Care and Counseling. In that book he articulates several important ideas including the notion of “future stories.” The stories we tell ourselves about the future can have as much impact on us in the present as do all the stories we tell about our pasts.

For instance right now I’m carrying around a host of future stories about everything from what time I’ll turn out the lights tonight to what movie I might see this weekend, to where I’ll be teaching and what I will be researching 20 years from now. The power of future stories seems obvious when you try it on. But it is a significant challenge to the psychological traditions which mostly focus on the past as the main or only key to understanding personal identity or behavior in the present.

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Epiphany II

Tomorrow is the second Sunday in Epiphany.* Many churches will read and hear the story of Jesus’ baptism. Some churches will invite worshippers to remember their own baptisms. I want to remember mine with you for a moment . . . I was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1973. I know because the date and occasion are written in a Living Bible (very popular in the 1970s) that my parents gave me on that day. What I remember vividly is the little white dress I wore that Sunday.

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Epiphany I

A wing and a prayer . . . This morning I prayed in darkness. And then I saw a great light. It was the sun. Filling up the all of the cold morning. My husband called me into the kitchen. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sparrow breathe,” he said. Not taken to fits of poetry or even flowery prose, he had to be speaking literally. He began to explain. It seems that the sun is at just the right mid-winter angle to fill our backyard bird feeder with light. If they perched just right the birds at the breakfast buffet were silhouetted by the rising sun. As they took their turns and tilted their heads just so, puff, their tiny warm breath exhaled in a little cloud.

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