One of my good friends, Tricia DeBeer, once told me that finding balance is an illusive goal. Instead, she said, balance is an ongoing movement between moving targets. I likened her words to an active Twister mat in which you’re readjusting to make sure your hands and feet stay on the colored circles. Whatever the visual that comes to mind for you, I’ve been in a constant state of finding and refinding balance over the pasts few months as LDI has simultaneously wrapped up a very active program year and completed our merge with Episcopal City Mission (ECM).
Our decision to merge with ECM was driven by the belief that LDI’s work will benefit from ECM’s clear commitment to issues of immigrant, racial and economic justice. Similarly, ECM will be stronger through the addition of LDI’s well developed leadership programs that prepare people of faith to actively seek justice. Ella Auchincloss, Co-Founder and Chair of our Leadership Team shares more about this decision in our Annual Report:
Today, when people of faith urgently need to embody love that brings about justice LDI is again listening deeply. Over the past year, under Natalie Finstad’s guidance, we have carefully discerned where our work can best meet our community’s need, and have assessed which organizational structure can best accommodate our growing ministry in the diocese of Massachusetts and beyond.
Alongside this process, our fiscal agent, collaborator and long-time funder, ECM, has also been discerning their response to this urgent moment. It has become clear to both the LDI Leadership Team and ECM’s Executive Committee that our work is deeply integrated. LDI is drawn to ECM’s emerging mission of deepening the church’s response to immigration, racial justice and economic justice, and ECM intends to feature LDI’s formation tools and practices as a critical centerpiece of their new strategic plan. As a result LDI will become part of ECM and we will be dropping our distinct public identity
Alongside LDI’s discernment as an organization, I have been doing my own professional discernment. At the close of LDI came an opportunity for me to apply for the Director of Programs and Engagement with Episcopal City Mission. This position would not only allow me to continue leading LDI’s formation programs but expand my work so that I am able to adapt our current program models so they strategically support grassroots movements that are building relationships of power which bring about more just communities.
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Processed with Rookie Cam
I spent the last two weeks in Sydney, Australia, visiting my sister Paige who recently moved there to be with her partner, Andrew. It has been more than a year since I’ve traveled out of the country – I have missed it! I love the process of absorbing, and being absorbed into, a new community. It’s a spiritual practice for me. I find that during those trips I see what parts of my life are most essential and of what can easily be released.
One thing I was reminded of on the trip is how much I like to stay connected to the work even when traveling. Halfway through my trip to Sydney I began to express this desire and the world responded! One of Paige’s colleagues, Alex, connected me to her family priest, Fighting Father Dave. Dave got that nickname from of the fight club he runs in his neighborhood to keep kids off the streets, his tenacious and pugnacious spirit, and his general commitment to fighting the good fight for equality.
We met for coffee Friday morning at a small café. As I walked into the café I scanned the room and spotted a man wearing a blue clerical shirt and two crosses around his neck, he was juggling multiple electronic devices and eating eggs and greens. I loved him immediately.
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This Sunday I heard a powerful sermon. The Rev. Lisa Hunt, rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, offered a reflection on the conflict between who we are and what we do. Citing the Israelites recovering from the oppression of the Babylonians, Lisa noted that outside circumstances in our lives make it difficult for what we do to fully reflect who we are: a beloved and powerful child of God.
She went on to note that this contrast is especially challenging in the United States where such value is placed on what we do. In our culture often the first question asked is, “What do you do?” We are fixated on the work or the product of someone rather than the interests or passions that drive one another. This fixation can becoming especially discouraging when, for one reason or another, the structure of our lives change and we are unable to achieve or perform to our desired standards. Lisa encouraged us to remember that what we do, or do not do, does not define who we are as a person. Our understanding is that God’s divine presence is within and available to us all and in that, we can find hope, no matter our circumstances.
I walked away with a reminder that it is my life’s work to discern how, at each present moment, God is calling me to embody the love, light, and power of Christ. In other words, I am continually wrestling to unite what I do with who I am. This sermon was especially poignant as it came three days after I got a letter admitting me as a Postulant for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church.
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Today my parents, Bruce and Sedonia, celebrate 33 years of marriage. Their marriage began at the Houston Plaza Club where my mom, a beautiful and radiant woman (still true today) was working as the club receptionist. My dad, a then stockbroker, would spend his lunch break at the club playing backgammon and doing deals. My mom was drawn to my dad’s quiet nature. There is something about a quiet man that makes a woman think. I imagine that my mom, the opposite of quiet, spent afternoons wondering what the handsome and young Bruce thought of her.
The story goes that one day, after flirting back and forth, my mother got tired of wondering and asked my father (with quite a bit of moxie), “When are you going to ask me out?” Thankfully, Bruce thought well of Sedonia and he asked her to accompany him to a Rockets game for their first date. They went to Chilis for dinner (I guess this used to be a hip first date spot) and then to the Rockets game. My parents both claim that they knew that night. My father called his mom to let her know, “I’ve found her, I’m in love.” Just three months later my dad asked my mom to marry him at Brennars Steak House and she said yes.
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This weekend one of my dear friends and a truly beautiful woman died. While I am confident Katie’s soul and presence will never leave us I am struggling to make sense of the loss of her physical being.
Katie and I met in 2010. I was preparing to move to Kenya and transitioning some of my work at Trinity to a volunteer team she wanted to join She and I shared breakfast at Zaftigs Diner and it took about 10 minutes of conversation to realize our meeting (and following friendship) would extend far past Almost instantly, Katie and I sensed a resonance between us and shared about our struggles with food/body, our desire to make a difference/fear we would fail and our beautifully checkered pasts. This was one of Katie’s great gifts, to open up her humanity in a way that made strangers feel like friends within minutes.
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It has been twelve years since I left Houston, Texas. I have been reticent to return, perhaps because I associate the city with heat, conservative politics, uncomfortable holiday gatherings and the self-confidence I had as a high school student. IT was only recently, when I decided to begin Katallasso that I thought about returning. I knew that I’d be looking for a ‘base camp,’ some where I would spend one-two weeks/month and I toyed with the idea of making that Houston so I could be close to family. The musing became a reality when I was asked to leave Kenya on short notice due to some security concerns and I had to make a quick decision about where to live. Perhaps fortuitously, one of our dear family friends needed some one to move in and provide her with companionship at the exact same time. I didn’t want to move for the sake of settling uncertainty but prayer and reflection led me to believe that this would be a perfect opportunity to see what it was like to live closer to my family.
August 12th I moved in with Peggy, a neighbor of ours recently diagnosed with a heart condition that makes moving around challenging. I helped prepare dinner, ran errands for her and spent most of the day working from home so I could check on her as needed. While this slowing down could be annoying to some for me it was the opposite, it gifted me with the time to reacquaint with some of my first loves that have been placed aside during the fast pace of my recent life: family, competitive exercise and fun.
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Today is a wonderful day, I am caught up in a combination of great joy, awe and excitement. I have recently received some incredible news and I’m finally able to share it publicly. The Episcopal Church Foundation, leaders in developing transformative ministry, have awarded me a fellowship to work alongside other leaders in the church to identify and unite transformational ministries for the purpose of building a more “effective” church.
I put effective in quotes because one might ask: how do you define “effective” church? I am defining it as the following. (1) Individuals have encounters of God that redefine how they understand themselves/see their role in the world (2) Transformed individuals work alongside their community to build a just world that reflect’s Christ’s values.
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I began saying my goodbyes mid January, I was sitting on a rickety wood bench in Embu Kenya, peering into the eyes of my good friend Patrick. I told him, in about a year I’m going to be returning to America and I won’t be coming back for a bit. It would be sad, but I would come visit as much as I could. I started to cry, not big tears but soft tears of recognition that this phase of my life would end soon.
It’s my goal to walk into this departure full on and accepting all of it. There are so many moments I enjoy here, the glance of my best friend, children dancing on the streets, gospel music blaring on Sunday mornings. I will not have those soon and it’s good to be as prepared as I can be for that loss.
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