Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

“The mission of the Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande is to connect and support all women in their diverse ministries. We do this by offering opportunities to gather for studying, re-creating, and celebrating who we are as women of Faith, Hope and Love.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012


We've all heard the term 'mystics' to refer to some women and men in the history of Christianity (and other religions).  Some of us think that there is no way anyone now can be that 'holy'. However, it's not a matter of being extra special, but rather a willingness to let God work. I think we all have moments when we 'go deeper in and higher up' as CS Lewis says. The Celts call this experiencing the Thin Places-where heaven and earth are very close.
Who exactly is a mystic? Simply someone who is able to surrender to God and to believe in realities beyond human comprehension. There is an analogy that a mystic is like bubbles on waves. Every so often one of the bubbles decides to go deep into the water and that's who a mystic is. Last weekend, I was at Lake Dallas and took a photo of the waves lapping on the shore because they reminded me of this image.
Sometimes we experience the thin places or dive, like the bubble, deeper into the ocean of God's Love during prayer. It can happen listening to music or at Eucharist. Something like a beautiful sunset or rainbow can bring us close to God.
Oddly, we can find a 'thin place' when we least FEEL that God is present! When we surrender our score-keeping of how 'holy' we are and just let God be God and then we can be assured that God is using us.
It has been said that life is a school where we learn to love. Diving into God's vast love is a way of learning the lesson of love. Mystics have looked at this 'going deeper' in different ways. Claire of Assisi (12th Century) said:
Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation!
So that you too may feel what His friends feel as they taste the hidden sweetness which God Himself has reserved from the beginning  for those who love Him
Catherine of Sienna (14th century) says it differently:
O immeasurably tender love! Who would not be set afire with such love? What heart could keep from breaking? You, deep well of charity, it seems you are so madly in love with Your creatures that you could not live without us! Yet You are our God, and have no need of us. Your greatness is no greater for our well-being, nor are you harmed by any harm that comes to us, for You are supreme eternal Goodness. What could move You to such mercy? Neither duty nor any need You have of us (we are sinful and wicked debtors!)- but only love!
Just recently, I was listening to a CD I hadn’t heard for a while. The song “Stonesand Sea” by Eden’s Bridge that seems to capture how a mystic sees the world and God.  
In the beginning,
I was counting the stones on the seashore,
Looking for the precious ones.
Among the stones, I found many pretty things
While the sea rolled on beside me all the time.

Time moved on.
I had collected many stones 'til I tired of them,
And I think they tired of me.
Some were lovely, but I was never satisfied,
And the sea rolled on beside me all the time.

And the wind rose, east and cold.
Whisp'ring sweetly to my soul.
And it said
"Look you fool,
You are missing precious things:
Raise your eyes and look towards the sea."

So I looked:
It was as if I saw the sea for the first time,
And it's power captured me.
All the time I had wasted seeking stones,
I had missed the rolling glory of the sea.

And the sea
Devoured a mighty swathe of heart, overwhelmed me
In a way I couldn't know,
And the price for the love of greater things.

Most of the time we stay on the shore and leave tracks, but sometimes, we try out the feeling of diving deeper. Then we are a mystic, just like Claire and Catherine and hundreds of other women throughout church history. Have you ever let yourself be the bubble that sinks deep into the love of God? Have you looked toward the Sea?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Celtic Knots and Prayers

Last weekend I was at a retreat in Amarillo. The women of the Diocese of NWTX were very warm and welcoming. It was fun to interact with new friends and learn about ways of Celtic prayer at the same time. We prayed together and shared fellowship while learning from Mary Earle.
One of the most fun things we did was color a variety of Celtic knots and designs. You can do a Google or Bing search and come up with many different designs yourself. What I find fascinating is the symbolism in the knot. Celtic Christianity emphasizes the intertwining of heaven and earth, of Creator and creation. There is a sense in the prayers and way of living that recalls that we humans are only part of the entire God-filled world.
One of the prayers we used has lingered with me since I returned as a reminder that every speck of creation-seen and unseen, friend and foe is formed by God:
The One who made thee, made me likewise.
It's easy to say this brief line when confronted with something or someone stressful. It is also a surprisingly deep way to recall that God is indeed in everything we touch. On the deepest molecular level, even things we think of as 'man-made' are formed of bits of God. It is also a lovely greeting, similar to the Indian Namaste or African Ubuntu-both loosely translated "I see you" or "I see the God in you".
Another part of Celtic Christianity is the understanding that all things are related. God's presence is prayed in and through all activities. An example is this prayer that could be said while dressing:
Bless to me, O God,
My soul and my body;
Bless to me, O God
My belief and my condition;
Bless to me, O God
My heart and my speech,
And bless to me, O God
The handling of my hand;

Strength and busyness of morning,
Habit and temper of modesty,
Force and wisdom of thought,
And Thine own path, O God of virtues,
Till I go to sleep this night.

I think we can enrich our own walk with Christ as we experience new and different ways of prayer.
Do you have favorite prayers from the BCP or from another faith tradition? We learn to see God more and more in all people and all things as we discover that God is, indeed intertwined, like the Celtic knot, in every part of our lives. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Celtic Spirituality

This weekend I am in Amarillo at a retreat of Celtic Spirituality led by Mary Earle, author and priest. I hope to come back, not only refreshed, but with fresh ideas of ways to build up the Women of the DRG.

Remember to register for the upcoming Crazy Quilt Conversations Retreat at the Bosque Center on Nov. 9-10. More info on the What's Happening page of this blog. Registration forms are here and in the e-newsletter that many of you received last week. If you aren't yet on the DRG Women email list, send me your email and I'll be happy to add you. Then you will be in the loop for all the retreats and other activities coming in the next year.

Feel free to post and share the registration info with other women in your parish. You can also stop by the Women of the DRG table during convention to pick up registration forms.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Internet Proverbs

I thought everyone might enjoy a bit of a smile-esp. at the love-hate relationship so many of us have with the internet. Here's what Proverbs might have sounded like if there was internet in Solomon's court. 
Internet Proverbs

1. Home is where you hang your @.
2. The e-mail of the species is more deadly than the mail.
3. A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.
4. You can't teach a new mouse old clicks.
5. Great groups from little icons grow.

6. Speak softly and carry a cellular phone.
7. C: is the root of all directories.
8. Don't put all your hypes in one home page.
9. Pentium wise; pen and paper foolish.
10. The modem is the message.

11. Too many clicks spoil the browse.
12. The geek shall inherit the earth.
13. A chat has nine lives.
14. Don't byte off more than you can view.
15. Fax is stranger than fiction.

16. What boots up must come down.
17. Windows will never cease.
18. Virtual reality is its own reward.
19. Modulation in all things.
20. A user and his leisure time are soon parted.

21. There's no place like home.com.
22. Know what to expect before you connect.
23. Oh, what a tangled website we weave when first we practice.
24. Speed thrills.
25. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to use the Net and he won't bother you for weeks