June 15, 2023

“Stop and smell the roses,” we are told. Summertime becomes our down time when we finally try to slow our lives a little bit and take a vacation. Yes, this is very much a privilege of economically advantaged people in our culture. Most people don’t have the opportunity to get away from it all. I have found alternatives on my back porch—birdwatching.

“You’ll never hear birds here,” my friend explained. We were looking for a new home and I had a prerequisite—birds! But the house we were considering was near the world’s busiest airport and my friend explained that flocks are a danger to airplanes and airports therefore have some mitigation to discourage their presence. The house was too right to pass up and the airport noise seemed to be white noise on all our visits. So, I gave up the birdsong.

Our first night I was awakened by two sounds. Trains! Not pleasant! Eventually, I did not awaken to these nightly horns, as long as I was asleep before their scheduled arrival. The other sound, like an alarm clock for the rest of the summer, was the mockingbird. Right outside the window. Definitely a full-throated singer. Probably as loud and nearly as annoying, as the trains. Eventually, it, too, only disturbed restless sleep from which I probably needed waking up anyway.

The good news is there were plenty of other birds, some interesting singers, some just noisemakers. I could sit all day and watch and listen to birds. It makes me feel — content, at peace. Turns out that is not just me.

The Washington Post shares news of two studies finding that birdsong has a “time-lasting link” to improved mental wellbeing. Listening to birds, and even listening to recordings of birds, for as little as six-minutes a day improves your state of mind, and reduces things like anxiety, depression effects, paranoia, and general negative moods and emotions. Perhaps the songs of nature are a gift from our God, who desires that we enjoy life, abundantly. Listen Here!

By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.

From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,

and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?   
Ps 104: 12-13, Mt 6: 16
I hope you’ll take time to smell the roses, but better yet, listen to the birds.
Peace, Rev Bev
Rose image, MarcusObal, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Mockingbird image, By GenQuest – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Ryan Hagerty -:Images from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service., Public Domain,


Ordinary Time

May 18, 2023

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. Ps 90: 12

How much longer?
Are you counting the days? Yes, to your vacation, probably. Or at least until school is out and routines and traffic and crowd patterns change. Churches do, count days that is.

Three Sundays away is Trinity Sunday and then—Ordinary Time begins! 

In other words, we are counting days until the next holy day (holiday). People look forward to soul-refreshing moments. Perhaps we need to pay attention to soul-sucking lifestyles that make us look for something better, and anxious to get away from our ordinary lives. Imagine if everyday was a holiday. Imagine creating a life to which every morning was a breath of fresh air and you couldn’t wait to start the day. Imagine opening your eyes excited about the adventure ahead, the possibility that something wonder-full was about to happen.

I’ve been thinking about two aspects of churchy life. One is the soul-draining busy-ness of church. Planning, meetings, leading, fixing, recruiting, meetings, promoting, administering, did I mention meetings? Business as usual. And that doesn’t take into account the upkeep of property.

Within this administration is ministry. When a person is working within their spiritual gifts, business to one becomes purpose to another. As a pastor I have enjoyed a great sense of purpose. I have also had days when I wondered if what I was doing makes any difference. In my work, I have discovered that everyone I meet has that spiritual quest in common. We all want to know our own lives mattered and made a difference, to someone, to anyone. We want purpose.

Burned out or Breathing?
If you are feeling burned out by yor ordinary life, by your work, or by your church work, ready for a break, hoping no one asks anything else of you—take the gift of Sabbath. During that time, patiently, prayerfully, joyfully, studiously, honestly ask, “what’s the point and where do I fit best?” Allow yourself time in your ordinary day, the counting down time, to think about the coming of the holy moments when you have said, “this was worth it.” 
If you’re looking, feel free to join us at St. Andrew as we, too, learn together about our God-given purpose. 

And whatever you do, breathe. “Breathe in peace. Breathe out love.” (song here)

Breathe in the wonder of new sunlight and summer showers. Breathe in the gifts of summer laughter whenever you can. Breathe in the pace of people being away, or present during summer travels. Let the wonder of Ordinary Time become the way to the holy in every day. You might also note, once you’re on that getaway, there is a moment when you start to think, “how much longer,” until I go back.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Ps 90: 14
 We count our days. Let’s make each one count.