For Saints, Sabbath, and the First Day of Fall - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 38

#SevenGratitudes is a weekly gratitude practice for the enlivening of my soul, a deepening engagement with the world, and simple encouragement for anyone who stops by.

Thanks for being here.

This week I am grateful...


For sister Hildegard.

Statue of Hildegard_Abbey Church of St Hildegard Germany.jpg

It was the feast of Hildegard von Bingen this past Sunday. I did not even know until Monday and so enjoyed remembering her then. I stumbled upon an exhibit the Brooklyn Museum has on the German mystic, and a few quotes, too.

"Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly. . . .
The earth is at the same time mother,
She is mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human.
She is the mother of all,
for contained in her
are the seeds of all."

"God hugs you.
You are encircled by the arms
of the mystery of God."

"Now in the people that were meant to be green there is no more life of any kind. There is only shriveled barrenness. The winds are burdened by the utterly awful stink of evil, selfish goings-on. Thunderstorms menace. The air belches out the filthy uncleanliness of the peoples. The earth should not be injured! The earth must not be destroyed!"

"'With my mouth,' God says, 'I kiss my own chosen creation. I uniquely, lovingly, embrace every image I have made out of the earth’s clay. With a fiery spirit I transform it into a body to serve all the world.'"

I have GOT to learn more about our girl Hilde.


For an illuminating weekend with Life Around the Table and the reverend Nurya Love Parish.

The retreat I mentioned last week went beautifully. I was challenged and encouraged by the diverse group that gathered in the name of Jesus for the sake of welcoming all. I witnessed connections made, ideas gathered, and communion happening. And we ate together, y’all. We ate together.

Three things surface in the afterglow of the experience:

(1) Sabbath is calling my name. In recent weeks I have felt a stirring toward practicing Sabbath again.

Aaron and I kept (and WERE kept by) a Sabbath practice for 8 weeks the summer before I started grad school. It was a powerful experience. We started each Friday night with Sabbath supper in our home—complete with friends, prayers, candles, wine, and challah. Those were magical spaces in which time itself seemed to stretch out and relax with us.

The next morning we would make French toast with the leftover challah, love one another, and deeply, deeply enjoy the day. As for boundaries, we decided to not spend money or drive our car from Friday night until sundown Saturday—which led to a pretty amazing sense of localism and community.

As I said, I have been feeling mightily stirred toward this practice again recently.

Wouldn’t you know, the hospitality workshop I showed up for was actually ABOUT Sabbath keeping?

How Sabbath Changes Us

Wouldn’t you know? I didn’t know. “Sabbath” was not on the introductory snippet I read. But praise be. Grace absolutely covered our time there at the lake as we all turned and opened bit by bit to the idea of welcoming the Sabbath Queen.

(2) God always wants to love us, woo us, commune with us. Just try to do art in that Presence and see what happens. God shows up.

See here:

(3) Role models and testimonies are important. Through that Sallie McFague book I mentioned a couple of weeks ago and an incredible coach at school, I have discovered the goldmine that is “role models.” It is a gift to learn from those who have gone before us, to learn from their victories, long-suffering endurance, and mistakes. Even more, hearing their stories opens my mind and imagination to possibilities I never even hoped—I begin to open to God’s possibilities.

At the retreat this past weekend I had the opportunity to hear new friends and coworkers in the Kingdom talk about the people that inspire them, that spark their passions, and broaden their points of view.

Role models and testimonies of your own journey are so necessary to this work, friends. Share. Invite stories. Be transformed.


For a strong reminder...

...That abundance for all—the idea that we have more than enough if we share!—is not a popular notion for a capitalist system. For the reminder that respectful limits lead to abundance for many, whereas unfettered amassing and consuming = stealing.

I am thankful for the reminder this week, via an important but very uncomfortable talk at WakeDiv about retirement and pension for clergy, that the alternate way many of us will live our lives is alright, good, and absolutely nonsensical to most. Which means I need to know what I’m about financially.

Ron Swanson

I need to know the system better than I thought so that I can thwart its anxiety and beat it—refine it, shape it—into nourishment for not just me and mine, but the world.

‘Cause to just go along with what is handed to me, I do believe, would be stealing. That is what privilege does. It just hands you stuff, says it is “normal,” and—BAM—you’re thieving in ignorant bliss.

Jesus, open our eyes! Help us to continuously discern the difference between want and need. Move us toward compassionate membership in the whole of this good creation! Change our hearts and our financial planning, Holy Spirit! Show us how to love completely. Show us what self-restraint in Your name can mean for abundant life! Amen!


For St. Matthew.

Image by Rembrandt. 

Image by Rembrandt. 

Yesterday was St. Matthew’s feast (I know, ALL THE FEASTS this week—ain’t it grand?). In the past we have celebrated with silver dollar pancakes and a good look at how our finances might could mean good news for the poor. In light of that stressful-but-important talk about clergy retirement above, we have been looking to brother Matthew’s example even more.

I am thankful for this piece at Grow Christians. Been thinking about it all morning:

“Matthew left his job to follow the One who said, “Follow me.” He didn’t even clock out…I wonder what it was about this summons that sounded like “good news” to the tax collector we know as Matthew. Maybe it was the fact that someone saw him as a person, not a despised profession, and invited him to share in a life-changing community. Jesus is all about life-changing community.”


For Christian Ethics.

Alongside the above gratitudes—for the practice of restraint, abundance, and the life-changing community of Christ—add a great thanksgiving for the whole body of Christian Ethics. I am taking Dr. Jung’s class at WakeDiv on the topic this semester. In all honesty, I have been dreading it my entire time at Wake because other folks said it is hard and boring. WRONG. Dr. Jung’s intro class is helping me make connections like never before.

I am thankful, for instance, to understand something about the Catholic Church’s official view on “Natural Law,” that if anything impedes the human goods of “life, knowledge, play, religion, aesthetic experience, sociability (friendship), and practical reasonableness” it is morally wrong.

This is a framework, in my opinion, not an absolute. I think it is helpful tool for when I am thinking though finances, etc. I can ask the question: How does this action aid or impede the access to life, knowledge, play, religion, friendship, etc. of others?

I am thankful for the tools Christian Ethics provides for wrestling with the challenges and nuance of real life questions.


For the Autumnal Equinox.

Re-making Memories.JPG

Historically, many an important decision happens for the Coyle-Carrs at the autumnal equinox. We also take really cute pictures.

I love this day, the change in the air.

It is a tipping point that gently falls us forward into the next cycle of learning, growing, discerning, letting go, and rising again.  


That I am with Aaron for another first day of fall--

I’m home with my husband for the weekend!

So. Peace be with you all. I'm going to shut my computer for the weekend now. ;)