I don’t know about you, but this summer has been hard. If you listen to any news reports – whether it is in print, radio, television, or social media it has been hard. One would have had to been on a news fast, removed from all contact with the outside world to be oblivious to all that has been going on. Hatred, bitterness, anxiety, and violence seem to be permeating our society, here in the U.S. and in the world. Rockets launched into neighborhoods and school yards in Gaza and Israel; Christians in fear of their lives in Iraq; tear gas on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri; and children held like prisoners on our borders.
Last week I was immersed in a gathering of over 1,000 Episcopalians (800 of them high school youth) from over 80 dioceses including Taiwan, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and the continental United States. It was a time of joy-filled worship, music, fun, learning, and growing in discipleship. While this was the largest gathering of Episcopal youth, the triennial EYE (Episcopal Youth Event) just touches the tip of the iceberg of all the young people who call the Episcopal Church home.
How can we engage all those who don’t have access to diocesan youth programs, let alone the experiences and connections made on the campus of Villanova last week?
It’s not too soon in our congregations to being mapping out the events, activities, and lesson plans for the coming academic year (2014-2015). Most school systems already have next year’s calendar of holidays and vacations out, so it’s the perfect opportunity to do that program planning now that you know when everyone (who is able) heads to the hills for Spring Break or decides to take a hiatus (intentionally) from church on a three-day weekend.
For the past ten or so years I’ve put together a planning calendar focused on the Sunday lectionary readings, along with the season of the year and any event that may be occurring during the week (President’s Day) or that Sunday (baptisms).
Each year I published this (in pdf form since that was the only way to embed it in my now dormant “Living IN-Formation” newsletter, I would be inundated with e-mails from folks asking for it in a Word document so that it could be tweaked and customized on a computer instead of filled in by hand. I’ve heard you!
So – here is the Education Planning Calendar for 2014 (June) – 2015 (August)! (updated on May 15 with corrections)
- Education Planning Calendar 2014-2015 – as a pdf
- Education Planning Calendar 2014-2015 – as a Word (.docx) file
And don’t forget – now is the perfect time to evaluate this past year and review your curriculum choices, renewals, or search for August/September’s new start! You’ll find all your helps in Building Faith’s Resource Room!
Anyone who has participated in any of Eric Law’s workshops or trainings or read some of his books, know that he is a gifted writer, musician and poet. His work on diversity and inclusion is well known throughout the Episcopal Church and beyond.
Eric weekly blogs on The Sustainist, offering reflections of the events occurring in our world as well as questions for pondering the Sunday lectionary readings. This week he shares a reflection on how we react when things happen in our society and what it means to live fully alive in a culture of fear.
From Limit to Grace
I carry a backpack containing my computer and the things I need for my meetings, workshops, travels and conferences all the time. I switched to a backpack a couple of years ago after carrying a heavy shoulder bag on one shoulder making my posture unbalanced for years. So, when in the midst of the frantic media reactions to the bombing at the Boston Marathon, someone suggested that we should ban all backpacks from public events, I was a little upset. I was upset because this reaction to this tragedy was to set more limits, which is one of the typical responses to fear. Here is the logic: since the last tragedy involved two people who carried backpacks with explosives, we should limit the use of backpacks to increase safety. Using the same logic, why don’t we also ban baseball caps and immigrants from public events?
He suggests that we should be sustainists rather than setting even more limits that narrow our thinking. How are we living out Jesus’ command to “love one another”?
Read more of From Limit to Grace, including a link to listen to a song he wrote following the shootings in Sandy Hook in December entitled, “Sustain the Weary.”
I love August nights. The sounds of peepers when the temps are right – tree frogs, crickets and all the night creatures serenading me to sleep. I’ve been fortunate in that all the homes (excluding first apartment) have been set on a +/-acre of land that was at least partially wooded. Where we live now we’re surrounded by woods; it’s common to hear owls and coyotes calling in the darkness.
Quiet, comfortable silence that some might find too noisy. And as of last week, I’ve come to recognize the others noises that are not so pleasant. My ears have been sensitized to the quiet, to the stillness, to the sound of the air and the breath of creation.
Last week my family and I arrived home from an amazing safari adventure in Zambia and Botswana. Our first few nights were along the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls and Livingstone, Zambia. It was not quiet the first night.
We arrived in Africa during a full moon, so we could still see our way along the pathways to our ‘tent’ and could catch the outlines of the multitude of elephants that strolled back and forth from the river in the early evening and early dawn. Sleep was often awakened to the sound of hrrmpphing . . . hippos rising out of the cool water of the river to feed on the grasses on the shore and inland, whether they were green or dry. The trumpeting of elephants communicating and defending their young sounded within reach, although were probably hundreds of meters away. The cry of a leopard in the distance.
The nights became darker. As the moon waned, the sky opened up. Coming back late evening from a game drive in the land rover gave our guide pause to stop the engine, turn off the headlights and be still. Looking up, the cosmos bloomed in a massive array of constellations and planets. The Southern Cross . . . follow the two pointers. The Milky Way. A shooting star. Another. And another.
Each morning awakened before the dawn cracked open to the sounds of vervet monkeys chattering in the trees and birds urging the sun to rise. A new day, a new adventure. A new experience of life that occurs everyday that was unbeknownst to me before.
In the heart of the Delta we are treated to mokoros. Guided by our boatsmen, they silently glide through the glass waters amidst reeds, grasses, palms and papyrus, with a steady hand and strong arm of the pole. True silence. During the day, even the hippos are hidden away in the tall reeds, crocs sunning themselves on the floating debris only to slide into the shallows as we approach. Watching a multitude of African fish eagles watching us, herons and cranes mirrored in their search for fish, a Pel’s Fishing Owl discovered in the trees. It is quiet.
The nights are again silent. The hippo grunts and elephants walking through mud and water are part of the sounds of calmness. The tree frogs create a rhythm of their own, different varieties, each with their own melody. A lion’s roar, followed by the bark of a hyena in the distance. It is quiet. Encased in a mosquito-netted bed, you can hear the earth breathe.
Flash forward. Gladly back to the comfort of my own bed, easily flowing hot water and awaiting for the August peepers to lull me back to sleep. It is not to be. The silence is no longer present. The hum of the refrigerator, the glow from the clock radio, the water softener going through its cycle in the wee hours of the morning. The cars . . . loudly whispering away on the Merritt Parkway on the other side of the woods. White noise.
Silence is a curious thing. You think you know what it is until you don’t have it anymore.
But I still have the peepers for another month, and the remembrance of the whispered sounds of silence.
Photos taken by John Pearson, Sharon Pearson, Becca Hays and Chris Pearson (July 30 – August 10, 2012).