On November 8, 2020 my 94 year old father passed away from pneumonia in a hospital full of COVID patients. He did not have COVID, but with other patients being ill with the virus I was prevented from coming and going to his hospital room. I was grateful that my sister made arrangements each day for either she or I to be with him. During that time my daughter encouraged me to journal. Now, I don't know about you, but journaling has never been an activity I could get excited about. During one of my attempts to journal, my other daughter Aerin wrote out on each page of a 365 page journal with a beautifully engraved cover in the deepest color of Burgundy a prompt so that I could just respond to the prompt. Needless to say, it is about 3/4 incomplete.
But in late October, as Katie and I drove to Illinois to be with my dad (her papa), She continued to talk about her journaling experience. She had begun doing art journaling several years before as a way to gather with her friends, and when COVID struck relentlessly on our social engagements, she was able to continue her projects on Zoom with her friends.
While we were in Illinois, she bought me colored pens and a journal. It was a little gift waiting for me when I returned from the hospital. She had been journaling in the midst of her working on line with her company and in the midst of her grief at not being able to see her dying grandfather. I told her I could not draw, and she said it didn't matter. My first journaling was on All Saints Eve - the day before Día De Los Muertos. I drew a calavera not realizing I was celebrating not only my mom's memory, but I would soon be grieving my dad too.
Later in December as my ministry for Advent and Christmas was ramping up as well as all the paperwork when a parent dies, (who knew there was so much paperwork?), Katie suggested that once a week, not matter what, she and I Zoom and do our art journal. We began on a Wednesday afternoon shortly after the first of the year and invited my sister to join. We have journaled every Wednesday afternoon since then.
Now, you might ask, "are you a good artist?", and after I quit laughing I would say an emphatic NO. But, if you ask if that time is wasted doing art, or if I have the time to do an hour of art a week, and I would tell you, I wouldn't miss it for practically anything.
Here of some pictures of Katie's journaling. I encourage you to get a notebook and a pencil and start doodling. Let your spirit take you where it will. And, Pinterest always has great ideas!
One part of this last almost two years of Covid 19, and now the Delta Variant, has been the skewing of time. Many of us have had altered work schedules with being at home sometimes to work and being at the shop, (whatever your shop looks like), to work. Our children have learned more in a year and a half about life than ever before. It has not been typical for any of us, and we can't wait for normality to set in. And, it is good to have hope, the hope of normal appearing once again. However, let's not forget that time ticks by whether we are at our home office, worshiping in our parking lots, or rushing through grocery shopping avoiding massless people. We can't stop time.
So, I've decided that the youth groups I minister with will be offered the opportunity to help write liturgy to bless time as school starts. There are blessing of the back packs, schools, teachers, and students - but, now of all the seasons, as the second autumn of Covid is among us we need to hang onto the sacredness of the passing of each day's rotation around the sun. The arbitrary assignment of numbers to that passage should be a reminder that each segment that passes holds all the possibility that we can imagine.
Hold tight to those moments that you feel time is moving too quickly or too slowly. It is in the moments of awareness and breath that we open our hearts a little wider to the blessings of this moment in time.
Virtual Mission Trips
Sacred Stones Ministres leads mission trips every year for one primary reason; to form community through relationship building with one another, those with whom we lend a helping hand, and God. 2020 began with several trips planned and ready to move deeper into community tending, but that came to an abrupt halt. Our response to the pandemic was not to quit any plans we had, but to use the time for education and experience in a virtual world.
Virtual Mission Trips 2020 began with t-shirts - there’s nothing like t-shirts to make an experience real! In reality, we began by reaching out to the non-profits in the Denver Metro Area that we had relationships with in person in the past years. We scheduled each non-profit for an hour and gave them each an honorarium.
We scheduled 4 weekdays for ½ the day beginning each day with an activity to get to know each other and a prayer. The scriptures we used were connected with the day’s activity. Feeding the hungry, repairing homes, learning about immigration, people with disabilities, and houselessness. Each speaker had an opportunity to engage with their deepest passions of marginalized communities. After each speaker, we engaged in a discussion that focused on the topic at hand. Awareness of the mission group and their interests guided that discussion as it usually does with mission teams.
The mission teams still had hands on work to do each day - go for a prayer walk around the neighborhood, pick up trash, sweep sidewalks, design a tiny home, collect food, wash a pet etc. The conversations the following mornings about what they had or had not done set the pace for the morning’s next conversation. As usual, those who were engaged with afternoon activities were more engaged with the learning sessions each morning.
The week concludes with an afternoon of processing the week through art work - poems, drawings, collages etc. The teams are encouraged to think deeply about the things they saw through the presentations and their response. After an hour of processing, communion service engaged all the experiences. Each communion service’s liturgy was focused on the group and extemporaneous.
Each week was productive and we reached our goals of education and engagement with those on the margins. We are a progressive company whose values are to delight in the sacred - the sacred being here and now.