Contributors to our blogs are faculty, alumni, and students of Seminary of the Southwest sharing their reflections from the context of a community of faith. We hope you enjoy reading, and we invite your comments.
Before Mom died in 2004, she and my dad lived in a beach house on the west end of Galveston Island. Afterward, Dad moved to Dallas, but the beach house stayed in the family, and a number of our collective belongings remain there—including Mom’s books.
Among them are many volumes I know she read: Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, Kathleen Norris’s Cloister Walk, and Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, to name a few. Others, I know she never cracked; they’re too pristine, lacking the warps and creases of beach-combed books.
Still others I know she only partly read. I know this because of the bookmarks she left in them.
Some of these bookmarks are of the Hallmark variety, with colored tassels and wacky sayings such as “Reading is Forever!” Others come from her travels with Dad (the Moby Dickens Bookshop in Taos) or her devotional life (“Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!”). Still others are faded dry-cleaning receipts or rumpled grocery lists.
We had just arrived back at my son and daughter-in-law’s house after the baptism of their first child at five months of age. On my mobile, I noticed messages from two of my cousins. Their mother, my mother’s only sister, my last surviving aunt of her generation, had died unexpectedly and peacefully the day before at the age of 97 years.
After years of drought, this year’s winter and spring rains have brought almost unbearable beauty to Austin. I had gotten used to a minimal landscape, the trees calligraphic in their bare-branched simplicity - and then all of a sudden the world was shaggy and colorful and fragrant with blossoms on every branch. When I run in the neighborhood around the seminary, I find my head swiveling to take in a sweet smell or a brilliantly colored sidewalk garden.
In the midst of all this blooming, three of us realized that we had significant ordination anniversaries: Cynthia Kittredge 30 years, Kathleen Russell 25 years, and my 20, all adding up to a stunning 75 years of ordained life. We celebrated the occasion at noon Eucharist in Christ chapel on April 17, by remembering also the courageous women who went before us and made the path that we walk on. You can hear Kathleen’s beautiful sermon here. What follows is the Eucharistic prayer I wrote for the day, inspired both by the physical beauty that surrounds us here and by the beauty of the work that involves us day in and day out at Seminary of the Southwest: forming students to live and lead as Christ in all the contexts to which they are called.
The opening line of T.S. Eliot's masterful poem, "The Waste Land," reads: "April is the cruelest month..." For me and for my Easter Season reflections, Eliot so describes the fourth month as such because throughout nature, things are dying to be born. The knuckled bud on the branch is dying to bloom and then blossom. The bulbs planted in the Fall are striving to break the earth's crust in order to be birthed.
The evening of Holy Saturday my wife and I walked in procession with our children toward Christ Chapel. The Sanctuary was hazy with incense and dark like the Holy Saturday Tomb, like the face of the deep at the beginning of the world.
We waited there with Noah, with Abraham and Isaac, with Moses and Miriam, and with Isaiah and Ezekiel. We chanted the psalms together at the tomb of the Messiah and the tomb of the world. We asked for deliverance and reminded God of all those promises, knowing God’s faithfulness, but trying to forget for a little while so as to remember again.
Reflection from a member of The Episcopal Church delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW)
On Easter morning we find Mary crying in the garden outside the empty tomb. She is so confused by the resurrection that at first she doesn't recognize Jesus at all when he asks her why she is weeping. It has always struck me as interesting that Jesus doesn't tell her not to be afraid, nor does he tell her to dry her tears. He asks her, "Why? Why are you weeping?" In asking that question he lets Mary find her own voice to explain her distress. Jesus knows it will be vitally important to the future of this fractured community that they find their voices--because they are the ones he is counting on to tell a cohesive story of hope to the world.
“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark 16:8
Historical critics used to argue that the tradition of the discovery of the empty tomb by the women followers of Jesus was secondary to the resurrection appearances to the male disciples and that it was these scenes, when Jesus appears to talk and eat with the disciples, that are the source for resurrection faith. However, Jane Schaberg’s work has persuaded me that the faithful women, prepared by their experience with Jesus, would have been provoked to insight by the shock of the empty tomb.1
As a young seminarian in my early twenties, I loved the BBC comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. In this hilarious satire, Reginald dismantles his life as a successful businessman. The lines between his fantasies and his reality become blurred to the point where Reginald starts saying and doing things that are increasingly outrageous. Then Reginald fakes his own death and begins an alternate life free of responsibility and social convention. At age 23 I often wondered why this series delighted me so very much.
The pounding rain was the least of our problems, though we didn’t know it at the time. My son and I were traveling home to Austin after a week on the coast. I gripped the wheel and squinted into the watery I-10 corridor as Gabe pretended to read. Some cars poked along with us. Others bullied their way by in a hair-raising blur.
As we approached Katy, just west of Houston, the rain let up. I could breathe again. Tentatively, I accelerated. Buildings emerged from the mist. Gabe began to read for real. I moved back into the fast lane. Everything would be fine!
A summary of a paper presented to the Central Texas Colloquium on Religion
The Central Texas Colloquium on Religion began five years ago as a celebration of the many scholarly conversations that move around under the umbrella of religious studies. It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I think theology has a place under that umbrella too. Just as theology is something less than it could be when it lacks the methods of textual analysis, historiography, and sociology, religious studies is prone to a certain blindness without the input of theology.