What About Easter? A Message From The Tomb

Dear kindred,

I am keeping vigil for my mother who is the hospital in South Carolina and (barring a miraculous recovery) at the end of her life. This is my message to you who are wondering “how do we do Easter?” The first ten minutes or so are me talking about my own story, if you want to skip to the more relevant-to-ministry section. Be well.

Words Fail Me

I am sitting here on this night when all the Hell of this despicable, corrupt, understaffed administration has broken loose — or looser? — and I am aware that my mind is a fuzz of nervous energy and questions.

I am on sabbatical and therefore do not have to say anything on Sunday about Iran, Australia, Puerto Rico or any local issue, pastoral situation or anything else.

All I can say from this vantage point of two months away from the pulpit is that you are all f***ing heroes for getting into that pulpit or up on that bimah or sitting with your sangha or gathering your circle and having to have something to say about which you have prayed, thought, considered, discussed with colleagues, and wrung your hands over.

My body, mind and soul are slowly decompressing over this period of blessed rest (I mean, I’m busy, I’m reading, I’m learning, I’m traveling, I’m working on a book, but I’m doing it at a gentle pace and relieved of all pastoral and preaching duties). I am realizing how much psychic strain we carry in the responsibility of preaching: the sermonic mind ALWAYS whirring, the obligation of forever delving into sacred and secular texts seeking a Word to give to our people… the creative pressure of crafting a powerful liturgy. The showing up.

So tonight, no tips on how to show up, no admonition to shine your shoes and give yourself a facial or please get that floppy, huge suit jacket tailored for God’s sake. Just my solidarity and gratitude and amazement for you, for my colleagues, for those who have humbly consented to respond to the call to be the ones who have Something To Say about all of this. And it’s not just “something;” it is something in conversation with ancient tradition, it is learned analysis of eternal truths and contemporary complexities, it is something said in love and it is something said from the heart and not just the head.

Bless you. Take care of yourselves. May Holy Wisdom be with you in ways you can easily sense and rely upon.

Sabbatical 2020

That is CRAZY, that I am due for a sabbatical in the year 2020!! How cool is that!!?

20/20, get it? Okay, you got it. I knew you weren’t that thick, I just had to make sure. What a great church year campaign, too, though, huh? 20/20 Vision, and I hope the vision isn’t, “Hey, our minister went on sabbatical and we realized we like it better without her!”
I’m not paranoid — have you ever checked the stats on ministerial firings following sabbaticals? They’re HIGH! Make sure you don’t go into and transition out of a sabbatical without being aware of that. I think it makes a lot of sense: absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder, and I am frankly a little bit shocked by how many clergy don’t seem to get the point that sabbatical isn’t a vacation we get because we’re such harder-working bunnies than anyone else, it’s a time granted for intentional renewal, rejuvenation, and learning so that we can serve more effectively at its conclusion!

I am thinking ahead a little bit and returning to my sense of gravitation toward Ignatian spirituality. Wondering if any of you have done any Ignatian studies in Spain.

Who knows where the world will be in 2020. It’s just fun to think about the possiiblities of immersion in ancient community practice somewhere.

Post-Christmas Eve Service Reflection

Whoo boy, did I get sick with the Norovirus last Thursday night! Perfect timing, though (sort of), in that I was through the worst of it by Sunday evening (Christmas Eve). Thanks be to God. How did yours go, gang? Tell horror stories and happy stories in the comments! And if you’re totally collapsed today, who could blame ya? Take good care. Love, PB

Checking In, July 2017

A few things happened.
I celebrated twenty years in the parish ministry! I will be writing a lot about that this summer, sharing my wisdom and whatnot.

I went on two short trips. I married a cousin to her beloved. I saw Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!” and Andy Karl in “Groundhog Day.” I shook Leontyne Price’s hand!!!!!!!


I kept up with the news and cried a lot. My heart hurts all the time. My heart hurts so much I am going back into therapy with someone who has a clinical and theological orientation. I can’t be in therapy without talking about God, and I can’t do spiritual direction with someone who isn’t educated in the clinical manifestations of moral despair and pain.
So there’s that.

Our church has been hugely busy and I am very excited and grateful for all of it but somewhat creatively tapped out. After our big Pride weekend beach service and final decision on a new Music Director I can slow way down for a couple of weeks. I am taking August off, off, offety off!

I am gardening. Are you gardening? I am not a “gardener” but I like messing around with plants. I like cool tones so my front plot is all lavender and other blue, purple, hot pink, and … WHEN DID I PUT IN THOSE YELLOW DAISIES?
I love the surprise of perennials. “Holy cow, now where did that hibiscus come from?”
I put a lot of little magical things in my front garden because kids walk by a lot and it’s fun for them. I have front porch envy. Eventually I’ll have to put on a little tiny porch so I can sit out front and be officially nosy instead of covertly nosy.

Everything seems to be a bit snug so I guess I got fatter and I’ll have to get less fat this summer. No goals, just general awareness.

I will not be at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly because I cannot even. I am selfishly saving my passion and energy for my own local congregation. I have no desire to spend a week in New Orleans agitating. What I did do was write three companion blog pieces about our current maelstrom, although I did not mention all the senior staff resignations and subsequent dumbass decisions about sending those who resigned out with golden parachutes. How dare the UUA come to us for more money when they spend it in such an unaccountable fashion?

Here are my pieces:
http://www.peacebang.com/2017/06/17/being-willing-to-be-made-a-people/ On how UUs are really not a covenantal people even though we love to throw the word around.

http://www.peacebang.com/2017/06/19/inherent-worth-and-dignity-the-starting-point/ On how UUs misinterpret our first principle in egotistical and individualistic ways.

http://www.peacebang.com/2017/06/19/7405/ On selective intellectualism and the resistance to the perfectly easy to understand term, “white supremacy.”

The best thing about not going to General Assembly is not having to pack for late June in New Orleans. Good luck, y’all!