One Foot In Front Of The Other

We’ve been doing mediation hikes for a year now.  They were the idea of one of our leaders.  She and I started out leading all the hikes together, but last fall she took over doing them herself.  I fill in from time to time on months when she doesn’t have a free Saturday. The meditation hikes are simple and meaningful.  All hikes are  somewhere in the Portland area with routes that are about an hour long.  Each hike includes time for reflection, sometimes while walking, sometimes while seated.  These are interspersed with periods of silence and readings.  Every hike also has time for conversations and moments to reflect together on the experience.   The hikes are advertised on meetup.com and on the SFC Facebook and website.  We get between 6 and 25 people per hike, usually around 10. This past week I planned a hike dealing with themes of struggle., and boy was that apt. On Friday our daughter and I hiked the park and picked a route.  I planned our stops for meditation and was ready to go.  As our family arrived early at the park on Saturday we realized something was not as expected.  The gates to the park were closed and parking in the area was insane.  It turns out there was a family fun run starting at the same time as our meditation hike.  I was upset, and took to the meetup app to try to locate people who had arrived.  We found some of the folks, but not all and began our hike about 15 minutes late.  It turned out to be a lovely...

The Very Best of General Conference

For many United Methodists, this past weekend has been spent processing the aftermath of our General Conference meetings held here in Portland.  From all of the decisions made, or not made, to our denomination’s inability to move forward and the pure exhaustion of those who spent so much of the last two weeks participating in all of the activities surrounding the conference, there has been a lot to think about.   Even though it was only a few minutes away from our house I spent most of the conference watching from afar.  In the time I did spend there I think I was blessed to experience the absolute best of General Conference.  Last Wednesday the Northwest experience program organized a few volunteer opportunities in the community.  I led a group of 12 to the Oregon Food Bank for a morning of sorting apples for distribution to those in need.  On the bus ride over we got to know each other a little bit.  We were lay and clergy, delegates and volunteers, old and young, and in-between.  I volunteered that day with a group of folks from the Philippines, Hungary, and a variety of locations in the United States both rural and urban.  As we sorted large crates of apples in to smaller bags we shared with each other about what it means to be a United Methodist in each of our different parts of the world.  I learned so much that morning. What an amazing church we have!   This is what United Methodists do best.  We serve.  Its in our DNA to reach out into the community and...

Sharing our Burdens

This spring has been packed.  Right now I’m still working at General Conference.  This is the global gathering of the United Methodist Church which takes place every four years.  It’s sort of like our congress, where we legislate our church and write new rules for our governing book, the Book of Discipline.  We are arguing over who is included in God’s grace, how women can navigate their reproductive health, the benefit of divesting from fossil fuels, and how our church views wise people from other faith traditions.  My role at General Conference is to manage the volunteers who are running information, registration, and other logistics jobs.  It’s been great, but a lot of energy to be present in this space as I do the work of my assigned task and watch as my friends, new and old wrestle with the weight of these important decisions. The other big thing this spring has been the closure of my traditional church.  Our last Sunday is June 26th.  While we have been working for months towards that day, as it gets closer it is more and more clear how much still remains to do and say.  I know that this is the right decision, but to be honest, I’m grieving a great deal the loss of this wonderful community. What all this means for Sellwood is that there is not a lot left to give.  The lovely thing about SFC is that I am not the sole organizational energy. Jeff is attending some of the events I usually go to, our friends who are staying with us did the bulk of the...

Sharing our Home

The other day as I was fetching something from the basement I noticed something odd, our bamboo placemats were splayed all around the laundry hamper.  I quickly figured out that someone from dinner church the previous night had picked up the napkins and the placemats and thrown them all down our laundry chute. This is the kind of thing that happens when you share your house, even if for just one night a week. Things end up in the wrong places.  Stuff breaks. I cannot tell you how many glasses we went through in the first year, until I bought some sturdier ones at Ikea.  We haven’t had a break since, but if we did we would tidy it up and continue rolling along, because that is what we do.   What actually matters is the work of community.  It’s the messiness of sharing life together which is holy and beautiful not the placemats or glasses on the dinner table. There are boundaries around how we share our home.  Folks don’t go up stairs or into the basement.  We ask the kids not to climb or jump on the furniture.  We put the cats in our bedroom so the people with allergies can breathe. We also vacuum the couch and rug just before dinner to minimize the dander.  We make our home open and welcoming to our community and they treat our home like their own place.  This means that there is respect on both sides and not a lot of upset when something goes wrong, such as a cat escape! My favorite times at dinner church are setting...