#UMC

She sang to me in Spanish…

13707606_1203614609673259_1642299643884555984_n (1)I just went through an amazing process as an episcopal candidate for the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. As a steady “2nd” in the voting process, I was able to talk to many people…delegates, those who were connected to caucus groups and those who were not, as well as those who were hanging on the sidelines. I heard more than I’ll be able to process in the coming months. For now, I’m soaking in all that I learned, all that was whispered, and all that was said both as pain and hope.
I went knowing that I could trust God’s Spirit to guide me. So I knew exactly the moment when I needed to step out and give my concession to the will of the Body and the move of the Spirit: to elect Bishop Karen Oliveto as our most qualified candidate. I had a moment to share with the greater Church a piece of my heart, and I am forever grateful for that moment. I am sure it was why I was there.
But after that speech, came something so beautiful: the hugs! People lined up to hug and love on and congratulate for a work well done. I’ll never forget those hugs. They felt like a dump-truck of love being poured out on my soul. I teared up for days just remembering…
In the middle of the Line of Hugs was an elder Latina woman who came up to me and began singing in Spanish. She wanted me to sing with her…she demanded it, really. So together we sang: “He decidido sequir a Christo…no vuelvo atras, no vuelvo atras…” (I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back…). It’s a song from my childhood, and we sang two verses…stopping the line to sing lustily, heartily, and with full voice as Wesley has instructed us. Two Latinas singing…a Latina mother figure bringing along another Latina into the moment of deep connection and deep joy for what God was doing in our midst.
She sang to me! She sang with me! We sang in our mother tongue. My soul is so very full. Gracias, Amiga Mia. Dios con nosotros…it is enough. It is vey well with my soul.

Happy Birthday, Me…I Wish For…

IMG_1539Happy Birthday, Me!  Today I’ve lived 59 years.  While it is a personal day of celebration, it is also a national day of mourning.  Too many deaths.  Too much hatred. Too much pain. But, well, I still have some wishes… Here are a few of them:

  1. I wish for young Black and Brown children to never have to be told how to “act” so they can live when stopped by the police. I wish for violence everywhere to cease.
  2. I wish for Police Officer’s main job to be Peace Officers…seeking avenues for peace, safety, and stability.  I wish for their safety too.
  3. I wish for immigrants near and refugees world-wide to find communities that will surround them in love.
  4. I wish for LGBTQ persons to be equally valued because they live and breathe.
  5. I wish for politician who stir up hatred to step down. And the same for media.
  6. I wish for the Church to flood the world with acts of kindness, generosity, and love that mirrors Christ’s love for us, and that changes us now.
  7. I wish for peace on earth, justice for all, and mercy unending.

Happy Birthday to me! May it be so. Amen.

Packing for General Conference

UnknownSo, I’ve been sort of packing for General Conference in Portland. I don’t enjoy the packing experience, so the “sort of” is about thinking and procrastinating, yet knowing the time is coming soon when whatever I have in the suitcase will have to do. As I pack, I dream about being a minimalist, so that I could wear the same thing over and over and be okay with that. Also, it would make the packing experience simpler. Minimalists create open space we that we aren’t overcome with our stuff and have room for our experiences…
But I’m not a minimalist…yet. So, I am wondering what I will need for the Portland weather, and the Conference Center weather, and of course, there’s always the decision about shoes… It’s a little maddening. And confusing. And, it’s something I don’t really want to think about.
But I am going to General Conference as a Volunteer, and I will be helping to host many delegates and UMCers from all over the world. They didn’t know what to pack either. But it’s my job (along with many others) to provide an environment of hospitality and care. Having experienced extreme hospitality recently in India, I am aware of how beloved one can feel when we attend to the little things, and when we make room for new relationships.
Last General Conference (2012) I swore I’d never go to another General Conference again. I experienced some cool things, but I also experienced some hatefulness and encountered people who were hurting by the decisions and discussions that occurred. But here I am going again, even going with excitement. I guess hope never really dies, and I still dream that something will be different, and that love can win out. Even when we disagree. Even when we don’t understand. Even when our mind is made up.
I’m going to do my best to pack light this time…so that there is some space in my soul for the surprises that God can bring. I’ll bring my bandaids, just in case, but I’m confident that God created this Body of Christ to heal; and that God created this Body of Christ for love. I’ll be looking for the new Body called “United Methodists.” And the world will be looking too… May they see us simply as a people who know how to love. Simply as ones who can engage in justice and holiness with courage and kindness. Simply as ones who focus on Christ who loved us all well.

It is my prayer. It is my dream. It is my fervent hope.
Faith, hope, & love,
Dottie

Holy Thursday

LastSupperKl

Holy Thursday.  Maundy Thursday.  The Last Supper.  Titles we use to describe this day.

This morning I was aware of the sacredness of the last time the disciples were to share a meal with Jesus, the one they had chosen to follow.  The only thing is, they didn’t know it was their last meal. They ate, and laughed, and relaxed around the table as if they had a forever of meals before them.  They joked, and recalled some recent moments, and of course, listened up every time Jesus spoke out.  And he had some things to say…and they heard them, but did not understand.  They didn’t know what he meant about the bread and wine being his body and blood.  Where did that come from?  And when he said he wouldn’t eat again until everything was fulfilled, they wondered about whether he was about to enter another 40-day fast.  And when he pointed out that one of them would betray him, they rallied with self-doubt and finger-pointing.  I imagine it was, to them, just another meal with Someone they didn’t quite understand.

And so they left the meal unaware of the importance of this moment.  Clueless to the limited time they had with Him.  Certainly, they left the meal without knowing the world would be remembering that meal even up to the year 2015.

And I feel the same sometimes.  Clueless.  Unaware. Unknowing.  The story lives in me, and yet I still don’t fully get it.  A simple meal shared among friends on a Holy Day, which becomes the Holy Communion that sustains my faith today, on Holy Thursday.  I can’t explain why.  But I can tell you when I take Communion, I remember that  they didn’t get it either, and yet that sharing of bread and cup sustained the disciples through some pretty tough days to come.

And today, it sustains us too.  We don’t know what’s ahead.  We just know we will make it somehow because all our meals are holy, sacred, nourishing, spiritual moments with God in Jesus Christ. And that what our brains can’t fathom, our spirits call “home.”  May your Holy Thursday be a connecting point to the One who loves you more than you can know…