"Icon of the Black Christ" by Rev. Canon Warner Traynham, former rector of St. John’s, Los Angeles, on display as part of an exhibition of his work at St. Paul’s Commons, 840 Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles, CA now through March 31, 2020. The icon has its permanent home at the Cathedral of St. John in Los Angeles.
From Outrage to Compassion:
A Proposed Lenten Journey
"Anger that leads to right action might well be a prerequisite for the spiritual life in our age." Sara Jolena Wolcott
Around the turn of the new year, one of my Facebook friends asked folks to post their "Word for 2020." There were lots of inspiring posts, like "thankfulness" and "merriment" and "fulfilled" and "ardent," and some funny ones like "again?" and "git ‘er done" and "schwifty," but the only word that came to my mind and stuck was "outrage". Outrage. I was then, and am now, feeling such anger at all the injustice I see in the world, that "outrage" was the only word I could feel in my heart. So, I thought I had better live with that reality for a while and see what I could do with that feeling in this new year. How could I do something constructive with all that rage and despair?
As luck would have it, this pilgrimage I am on for EPF had taken Steven and me through Albuquerque, NM, last spring, where we made a stop at Fr. Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation. There, I picked up a copy of the publication "Oneing: An Alternative Orthodoxy, Vol. 6 No. 1" which focuses on anger. As an Enneagram 1, self-righteous anger is my sin of default. Finding this collection of essays on how to turn my anger into something holy and useful was providence.
Among the essays in the Anger issue of "Oneing" is an inverview with Sara Jolena Wolcott, whose quote opens this blog. "Anger that leads to right action might well be a prerequisite for the spiritual life in our age." How comforting to know that my outrage could be a door to spiritual transformation! I commend the Anger issue, especially the Wolcott essay, as help for you if you share in my outrage at the state of things.
So, my plan for Lent is to be quite intentional about feeling my indignant rage and then using it to try to do something about what I am so overwrought about.
In the way that these things seem to always happen, I was astonished when, during worship at St. Andrew’s-Irvine last Sunday, Vicar Rev. Peter Browning held up a copy of Rev. Mary Bea Sullivan’s "Living the Way of Love: A 40-day Devotional," which St. Andrew’s is providing for all members of their congregation (and visitors) to read and use as a Lenten discipline. Mary Bea is a priest in the Diocese of Alabama, an associate rector at St. Luke’s-Birmingham, and she and I were Cursillo Pilgrims together in 2015. I knew her devotional book to be a profound support for living a Jesus-centered life, a life which compels us to side with the oppressed and the marginalized.
I’ll be using Mary Bea’s book as a tool for Lenten reflection, and I’ll be modifying another Lenten practice of mine: I always read the Lenten Meditations collected by my home parish of St. Andrew’s-Birmingham each day during Lent, then I write and mail the author (almost always members of St. Andrew’s, or former clergy or someone otherwise deeply connected to us) a personal note to tell them what their offering meant to me, and how I will use their wisdom on my Lenten path. This year, I’ll use each meditation as a launching point to write political and religious leaders about some issue on which I wish to urge their compassionate action. I’ll be taking a play from the playbook of EPF chapters like the "Peace Post" at Church of the Transfiguration, in Dallas, and Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, which empower church members to advocate for "right action" all year long by giving them compelling talking points and the names and addresses of elected leadership to whom petitions should be address. I am imagining letters to Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, asking her to stay an execution or two (ye gads!); writing Mitch McConnell to ask him to do something about gun violence; writing to Andrew Wheeler, the head of the EPA, to do something about the climate crisis (maybe a thank you note to Greta Thunberg); writing any and all presidential candidates to ask them to examine their positions on Palestine, and to ask them to do more to promote peace and justice (in concrete ways) in the decades old conflict between the Palestinians and Israel; and writing to ask who knows who about God only knows what other fresh hell will manifest and need addressing during these forty days.
Finally, I want to share with you one inspiring idea for a Lenten study group which comes from our friends at St. Bede’s in Santa Fe, NM. They are taking the "Contemporary Way of the Cross: A Liturgical Journey along the Palestinian Via Dolorosa" and meditating on the fourteen Stations of the Cross over a dozen or more in-person meetings, where they will read and reflect on the search for God in the midst of the oppression and torture being suffered by the Palestinians. I regret that I will be far enough away from Santa Fe that I cannot join them for these meetings, but EPF PIN education committee leader Kathy Christison has offered to share a written tutorial for us to use this resource in time for our own parishes for next year’s Lent. Get your copy of "Contemporary Way of the Cross" here.
So, how about you? What will you take on (on put down) for Lent? If you take on "right action", let us know what you are up to, and how you are inspiring others to do likewise. If you put down something, especially something that has a cost attached to it, consider giving what you might have spent on your guilty pleasure to EPF. We promise to put the money to more "right action" on behalf of the children of God who live in the shadows, who are persecuted, marginalized, and abused.
Rev. Peter Browning, Vicar at St. Andrew’s-Irvine, endorses Rev. Mary Bea Sullivan’s book of mediations, "Living the Way of Love" as an accompaniment on your Lenten journey. You can purchase the book here.
The work of EPF depends on the support of those who seek to do justice, dismantle violence and strive to be peacemakers. Your contribution to EPF will ensure that your voice for peace will continue to be heard in our Church and in our world. Click here to donate, and thank you!
The Office of Government Relations of TEC continues to advocate for further federal criminal justice reform. The vast majority of incarcerated people are at the state and local levels, so we encourage you to find out how your community and state have invested in diversion programs, restorative justice, and other innovations to focus on rehabilitation rather than just long-term incarceration. EPF has long advocated for meaningful criminal justice reform, including abolition of the death penalty, and we invite you to join us in this holy work.
Click here to learn more about
what the Church is doing.
EPF DELEGATION TO GENERAL CONVENTION,
APPLICATIONS COMING SOON!
For the sixth consecutive General Convention, in June, 2021, EPF will send young adults between the ages of 18-30 to General Convention to advocate for peace and justice by drafting legislation, testifying in committee, and building support for resolutions. Delegates will experience first hand how The Episcopal Church functions as the largest democratically elected governing body in the world. WATCH THIS SPACE for applications for delegates to General Convention to be available, coming soon!
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
congratulates EPF on 80 years of loving action and witness,
declaring that our activity is,
"Nothing less than the work of God!"
It’s not too soon to be thinking about General Convention, which will take place June 30-July 9, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland! Are you or your parish interested in helping EPF plan for our time in Baltimore? If you are in or near Maryland and wish to serve on our ad hoc committee to plan and make arrangements for our time at GC, please let Melanie Atha know. epfactnow. We’d love to have your energy, vision and connections to help our leadership have an effective and inspiring presence next year!
Our upcoming schedule:
Feb. 23 St. Luke’s, Long Beach, CA
Feb. 25 St. Andrew’s, Irvine, CA (Shrove Tuesday pancakes!)
Feb. 26 All Saint’s, Pasadena, CA (Ash Wednesday)
March 1 St. Cross, Hermosa Beach, CA
We’ll be heading towards San Francisco and the bay area on March 2! Details about our schedule coming soon!
April 17-19 St. Matty-Joe’s, Detroit, MI: EPF NEC meeting
Are you near any of our planned stops and want to visit? Just shout! Steven and I are planning to spend the rest of winter in California and then move into Oregon and Washington. I will come back east in time for our NEC meeting in Detroit in April, 2020. To schedule a visit, please contact me at epfactnow.
Until next time,
power to the peaceful!
the snow does not give a soft white damn whom it touches.
e e cummings