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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

You'll find here occasional writings, a few rants, and hopefully some insights too, about Christian discipleship, the Episcopal Church, and on faith community's life at the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts. At the Epiphany we understand ourselves to be "a welcoming Episcopal community, united in God, called to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to transform the world with love and generosity."


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  • September 16, 2016 2:23 PM | Anonymous

    This post first appeared in our parish's newsletter The Three Crowns in 2015.

    The Parker House Hotel was a nice place for a lunch meeting last March. The agenda for the meeting was unstated, but it was crystal clear. The clergy of the Mystic Valley Deanery (thirteen congregations comprising Wilmington to the north, Winthrop to the south, Winchester to the west, and Saugus to the east), were guests of Bishop Shaw so he could say thank you, and good-bye. We turned out in the best clerical haberdashery and ordered very un-Lenten things like Lobster Bisque or Fish & Chips. Most of us had dessert too. With twelve of these lunches to host it took Bishop Shaw several weeks, but he did it.

    The conversation on my end of the table was lively. One colleague’s parish had a spectacular program during Lent, so we asked him about how it went. Another colleague said to me, “Thomas, how’s the organist search going?” Engagement all around. That is until one, and then two, seemed to drop in and out of the conversation loop. Their heads went down and their fingers got busy. Why? They were checking their cell phones! If you’ve been one of these fiddlers, you know how difficult is to concentrate on a surrounding conversation when you’re checking a message, sending a text, reading an email, or glancing at Facebook. 

    One doesn’t have to be anti-technology to recognize that our electronic devices celebrate connectedness while actually encouraging withdrawal. I can’t count the number of times I use my iPhone in the middle of conversations, and other times when it is clearly rude to do so, and then have to say, “Wait. What?” because I wasn’t paying attention. If I send you and email I don’t have to reveal my whereabouts, emotional state, or my vocal inflection. If I leave you a voicemail, it’s quicker than a long conversation. If I send a text, I can hide behind sparse words. The device is fantastic for conveying information, yet remarkably feeble for sharing humanity. What’s really needed to be in relationship is to give and receive something called undivided attention, which is a precious commodity these days. Imagine two people so focused on each other that everything else going on around them is background noise…that’s undivided attention. 

    Simone Weil, the French mystic and activist, died too young, but she referred to attention as “a rare and pure form of generosity.” Attention and generosity woven together. We can experience this generosity, both the giving and the receiving of it, the next time we’re in the company of another person. The encounter might happen in five minutes from now, so we have to be ready. 

    I’m making a pledge to you: I promise to put my heart into the moment, and to give my fingers and thumbs a rest. If we all do this our homes, schools, cars, and even restaurants like the Parker House, will become lavish settings for generosity, and of course, signs that we’re paying attention. 

  • September 07, 2016 4:35 PM | Anonymous

    My friend Cynthia has pancreatic cancer. She’s in her seventies and lives in Italy’s Alto Adige region. She sent me an email this week acknowledging that all the prayer lists she’s on must be working because she feels better, doesn’t have any pain, and is trusting that she’ll be given what she needs for the journey ahead. She’s a remarkable person, and I’m not surprised by her resolve and her centeredness. Still, it’s hard. And I found myself fumbling to say the right thing, worrying that I’d say something ham-handed, and to be honest, because of this worry I had been avoiding, ever-so-slightly, calling Cynthia. 

    Maybe somebody you love is sick with cancer, or an addiction, or is facing a difficult time. And, maybe, like I did this past month, you have also struggled with what to say or what to do.

    I think the most important thing is to be real. Authenticity is an important spiritual value, and we can usually figure out when people we love are being “real” with us versus responding with platitudes. So, be yourself, and bring all the compassion and listening you have.

    Here are some phrases that I find helpful when I’m talking with somebody who is facing a difficult health crisis:

    • I’m not sure exactly what to say right now, but I want you to know that I care, that I love you.
    • How are you doing? If you’d like to talk about it, let me know. I promise to listen.
    • I’m sorry you’re facing this.
    • You are in my prayers. Is there something specific you’d like me to pray for?
    • You know this goes without saying: let me know how I can help.

    Faithfully in Christ, your friend and rector,

    Thomas


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